Phototherapy for early-onset depression: associations between sleep and mood changes

There is a well-established link between depression and disturbances affecting sleep and the “body clock”. This appears to be particularly pronounced in young people. To date, treatments have not usually focused on correcting sleep disturbance as a specific method for relieving depressive symptoms. This study tests whether the sleep and “body clock” profile of young people with depression influences their response to light therapy. The study involves using special light glasses at home for four weeks. You will be asked to undergo assessments of your sleep, ‘’body clock’’ and mood before, during and after the light therapy. 

Age range:     
13-35 years of age 


Individuals are eligible if they: 

  • Have a current diagnosis of a mood disorder (e.g. depression, bipolar disorder, dysthymia) 

Individuals are not eligible if they: 

  • Have other sleep, neurological (e.g. epilepsy) or medical conditions that could explain the current depression and/or contribute to sleep-wake dysfunction (except sleep apnoea if treated for >1 month); 
  • Have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, PTSD, or seasonal affective disorder; 
  • Have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder;
  • Are currently in a euthymic, manic, or mixed episode;
  • Have significant alcohol or other substance dependence; 
  • Use medications that affect sleep, circadian rhythms, or alertness within the past month (e.g. hypnotics, benzodiazepines, neuroleptics); 
  • Use of medications that can cause photoallergic reactions (e.g., nalidixic acid and fluoroquinolones, dapsone, celecoxib, and clomipramine); 
  • Have an eye or skin condition which may interact with bright light (e.g. retinal dystrophies, porphyria, lupus erythematodes, chronic actinic dermatitis, solar urticaria);
  • Have done overnight shifts on more than 3 occasions within the last 60-days; 

The University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research
Clinical Sleep Research Unit 
1145 Carling Ave, Ottawa, ON 

Recruitment Via: 

  • Self-Referral (by participant) 
  • Internal Referral (by ROMHC staff) 
  • External Referral (by doctors or other mental health specialist outside of ROMHC) 

Principal Investigator:
Rébecca Robillard, PhD 

Ashley Nixon 
613-722-6521 ext. 6658 

*This study is currently recruiting participants