The applicability of bright light therapy in adults with moderate, severe or profound intellectual disabilities: a brief report

J Intellect Disabil Res. 2017 Jun;61(6):618-623. doi: 10.1111/jir.12365. Epub 2017 Feb 22.


Background: Bright light therapy (BLT) is effective in the treatment of depression in the general population. It may be a good treatment option for adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) too. However, its applicability and effectiveness are not studied in groups of adults with ID, yet. Our aim was to study the applicability of BLT in adults with ID.

Methods: Bright light therapy was offered for 2 weeks, using a 10 000 lux light box, to 14 adults with moderate, severe or profound ID. Applicability of BLT and change in depressive symptoms were studied with questionnaires.

Results: Bright light therapy was successfully applied for ≥10 days in 10 participants. It was also applicable in participants with rather severe challenging behaviour. Before BLT, nine participants scored above the cut-off score of the ADAMS' depressive mood subscale. After BLT, six of them scored below cut-off.

Conclusions: Bright light therapy is applicable in adults with moderate, severe of profound ID. Its effectiveness as a treatment for depression in adults with ID should be further studied.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • Problem Behavior*
  • Severity of Illness Index