Light Therapy And Depression

light therapy depression
Light and depression is of interest in recent scientific publications. On Science Daily the use of bright light elderly group care facilities in the Netherlands leads to improvements.

The use of daytime bright lighting to improve the circadian rhythm of elderly persons was associated with modest improvement in symptoms of dementia, and the addition of the use of melatonin resulted in improved sleep, according to a new study.

According to one of the authors dr Eus van Someren: “elderly are somewhat less depressed and more active due to the use of bright light in the facilities for the elderly”. “Even melatonin level in the elderly in the bright light facilities was significantly higher during the night”. You can read the abstract in a recent JAMA issue.

A recent systematic review examined the efficacy of light therapy in nonseasonal depression. Light therapy is efficacious in seasonal depression but its role in non seasonal depression is unclear. The authors identified 62 reports from which 15 were selected according to their selection criteria. The sample sizes were small, blindness is a troublesome issue in this kind of research and publication bias is probable. Negative results are seldom published especially in such a difficult fieled of research. Their conclusion about light therapy for nonseasonal depression:

Overall, bright light therapy is an excellent candidate for inclusion into the therapeutic inventory available for the treatment of nonseasonal depression today, as adjuvant therapy to antidepressant medication.

So there is more to see that meets the eye with light and depression. Bright light therapy alone for the treatment of nonseasonal depression is not efficacious according to results to date. Further research especially with nonseasonal depression and circadian rythm disturbaces are needed.

What are your experiences with light and depression?

Related posts on this blog:
4 Nonseasonal Depressive Disorders treated with Light Therapy
Chronotherapeutics what is it good for?
8 articles about seasonal affective disorder
Riemersma-van der Lek, R.F., Swaab, D.F., Twisk, J., Hol, E.M., Hoogendijk, W.J., Van Someren, E.J. (2008). Effect of Bright Light and Melatonin on Cognitive and Noncognitive Function in Elderly Residents of Group Care Facilities: A Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 299(22), 2642-2655. DOI: 10.1001/jama.299.22.2642

EVEN, C., SCHRODER, C., FRIEDMAN, S., ROUILLON, F. (2008). Efficacy of light therapy in nonseasonal depression: A systematic review. Journal of Affective Disorders, 108(1-2), 11-23. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2007.09.008