November 26, 2015

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Light Treatment May Work on Nonseasonal Depression, Study Finds.

Bright light therapy has been used effectively for seasonal affective disorder, the kind of depression that comes on at a specific time every year, often the dark days of late fall and winter, and then lifts. Now a new study has found that it may work to treat nonseasonal depression as well.

Researchers randomly assigned 122 patients, 19 to 60 years old, with major depression to receive one of four treatments: 30 minutes of daily exposure to fluorescent light; 20 milligrams of Prozac daily; both light and Prozac; and a control group that received a dummy pill and exposure to an electric air purifier. The study, in JAMA Psychiatry, lasted eight weeks.

Using well-validated scales that quantify depression severity, the researchers found improvements in all four groups.

The difference between Prozac alone and the placebo was not statistically significant, but light therapy alone was significantly better than placebo, and light therapy with medication was the most effective treatment of all.

So, basically, your grandmother’s advice to stop sitting around moping and go outside for some fresh air and sunshine was right. But hey, if sunshine’s in short supply, you can always get a light box from Amazon!

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