Michael Terman, Ph.D.
Professor of Clinical Psychology (in Psychiatry)
Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry,
Research Scientist VI,
New York State Psychiatric Institute
Director, Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms,
New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center
Center for Environmental Therapeutics
Study 1: With a focus on patients with bipolar depression or chronic depression that has not been effectively treated with drugs, we are exploring a novel set of interventions that may quickly and stably reverse mood state. Patients begin with wake therapy (staying up all night), which can have a sudden, surprising benefit. In order to avoid relapse after recovery sleep, patients begin morning light therapy on a daily schedule, and for several days go to sleep and wake up earlier than normally (sleep phase advance therapy).
Study 2: Melatonin, although not directly hypnotic when taken at night, can induce the brain's circadian clock to shift earlier when taken before the onset of endogenous pineal melatonin secretion. By this means, it can counteract difficulty falling asleep and reinforce the effect of morning light therapy. We have devised a new melatonin formulation that slowly releases the hormone in simulation of the brain's secretion pattern, in an FDA Phase 1 trial to verify washout by early morning.
Study 3: In a Web-based research study of thousands of volunteers, we are assessing the sleep-wake pattern and seasonal variation in depressive symptoms across time zones in the U.S. Depression appears more prevalent at the western end of each time zone, where the sun rises about an hour later than at the eastern end. The problem may stem from waking in the dark, which may also explain the therapeutic response to bright light therapy.