Skip to comments.Therapy: Lighting Up a Life, Literally
Posted on 04/22/2005 12:09:23 PM PDT by neverdem
Exposure to bright artificial light can relieve some cases of depression as effectively as psychotherapy or antidepressant medication, new research suggests.
In a statistical review of 20 rigorously designed studies, researchers found strong evidence that exposure to artificial broad-spectrum light was a good treatment not only for seasonal affective disorder, in which people become more depressed in the darker days of winter, but for the more common nonseasonal depression. The review appears in the April issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry.
Dr. Robert N. Golden, professor and chairman of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and the lead author, said he was once skeptical of such treatments.
"I noticed that there were a lot of really bad studies being published" that claimed good results based on weak evidence, Dr. Golden said. "But when you throw out the bad studies and look at the good ones, the data are actually very impressive."
Light therapy usually involves sitting in front of white fluorescent lights with eyes open but not looking directly at the light source. Treatment time varies from 15 minutes to 90 minutes a day.
Dawn simulation, a variation of the treatment, recreates the timing and intensity of a normal sunrise each morning. Symptoms can start to diminish within weeks.
Dr. Golden warns that the studies have not been large and that the standards for what constitutes exactly the right exposure have not yet been established.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
My step-son and I both get SAD every winter. He gets it particularly bad. Next winter we're getting lights, or we're moving back south where there's sun all year round...
I replaced the light in my bedroom with a "daylight" compact fluorescent bulb from Home Depot and put it on a timer. It's a LOT easier to get up in the morning now.
No kidding! Now the MD's will have to get a procedure code, so they can soak us all with "light therapy" bills. Common sense is all too uncommon!
Wow, what a good idea!
If you start in November, symptoms diminish after 16 weeks of treatment. If you wait until February, symptoms diminish after only 4 weeks of treatment.
Ya, whatever. Reminds me of the rubes that spend perfectly good money to sit in a tanning booth. Try getting outside sometimes people.
"Ya, whatever. Reminds me of the rubes that spend perfectly good money to sit in a tanning booth. Try getting outside sometimes people."
You might want to spend some time researching SAD, full-spectrum light and its effects on the brain before you toss around words like rube. And the fact that you would equate someone suffering from clinical depression with someone who wants a tan speaks volumes about your compassion.
And you might want to spend some time researching government grants, universities, and The American Journal of Psychiatry before deciding that sitting underneath some fluorescent lights is better than going outside and getting some sunshine.
"deciding that sitting underneath some fluorescent lights is better than going outside and getting some sunshine."
Has it occured to you that in certain climates, spending an hour outside every day in freezing winter temperatures isn't the best option, particularly when you have certain medical conditions like reynaud's syndrome?
Yes. Has it occurred to you that I don't need a professor and chairman of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, supported by taxpayer money, to tell me that sunshine (that would be "broad spectrum light") is good for us? This has been known since the days of Columbus, for crying out loud.
By the way, I think it's called Raynaud's Syndrome.
"Has it occurred to you that I don't need a professor and chairman of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, supported by taxpayer money, to tell me that sunshine (that would be "broad spectrum light") is good for us? This has been known since the days of Columbus, for crying out loud."
I never said anyone needed a professor to tell him/her that sunshine is healthy. I took issue with your suggestion that people who use light boxes are rubes. Some people, for a variety of reasons, can't get outside every day for an hour in winter. For those SAD sufferers, light boxes are what stands btwn. them and depression.
"By the way, I think it's called Raynaud's Syndrome."
Since you know how to spell it, you surely know what cold does to their extremities. and, yes, I do know someone with both disorders.
During my years in Tucson I could never understand how anyone could be depressed. Summer sunrise by 500 am (no daylight savings) and birds singing, it was great. But we still had a psych ward full of depressed people.
I understand the childlike wish that it could be so simple as to "go outside--get some sun--." To think that life could be that unthreatening. But if it were that simple, antidepressants never would have had to have been invented.
I thought sunshine, flowers and wheeling grandma onto the porch with a glass of lemon aid was common sense. I stand corrected.
Well, by all means, get some fluorescent lights into the psyhc wards.
When I was living in the north I wasn't bothered that much by the cold (daytime high of -25 on a warm day). It was the lack of daylight that drove me nuts- sunrise at 8:30am and sunset at 3:30pm. It was dark when I left the house, my only time outside was lunchtime and it was dark again when I headed home. Small wonder that alcoholism is a huge problem in northern towns.
It is sooo gray in the winters in NYC, it was killing me. My light box has increased my quality of life tremendously. I can't imagine life without it.
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