An experimental depression therapy is showing promise at Billings Clinic.  Dr. Mariela Herrera, a psychiatrist at the clinic, describes the use of sleep and light as part of the triple chronotherapy being tested at the clinic.

It involves three distinct parts, beginning with 36 hours of sleep deprivation for the patient.  That is followed by advancing the patient’s sleep cycle to a normal bedtime over the next three days.  Finally, every morning beginning after the first night of sleep deprivation, the patient undergoes 30 minutes of light therapy at the same time each day using a specialized light box.

The box is the same type used to help patients suffering from seasonal affective disorder and, for the purposes of the clinic’s work, is a 10,000-lux light.  Diane Hurd, a registered nurse, said the therapy is aimed at reducing depressive and suicidal tendencies quickly, while traditional therapy and medication are ongoing.