Bright light therapy alone or combined with medication can be an effective treatment for those with nonseasonal major depressive disorder, according to a recent study published online Nov. 18 by JAMA Psychiatry. The combination treatment had the best outcomes, according to the study’s authors.
Bright light therapy has been shown to be effective in treating seasonal depression, but few if any studies have tested the treatment on those who have major depressive disorder either alone or combined with antidepressant medication, according to the authors. Researchers are affiliated with the departments of psychiatry at Dalhouse University, New Brunswick; Univeristy of British Columbia, Vancouver; and the University of Calgary, all in Canada, among others.
For the study, 122 adults ages 19 to 60 with MDD of at least moderate severity in psychiatric outpatient clinics in Canada participated in eight-weeklong, randomized, double blind, placebo and sham-controlled trials. Patients were randomly assigned to four groups. Patients either received light monotherapy 30 minutes per day with a placebo pill; a placebo light box for 30 minutes per day with 20 mg of the antidepressant fluoxetine hydrochloride; combination light therapy and 20 mg of fluoxetine; or a placebo light box with a placebo pill.
Baseline scores and eight-week end point scores were given to patients based on the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale. Data were collected Oct. 7, 2009 to March 11, 2014.
“The main result of this study was that both light monotherapy and the combination treatment had significant benefits compared with a sham-placebo condition in adults with nonseasonal MDD,” the authors wrote. “The combination treatment had the most consistent effects,” the authors worte, adding it was well-tolerated by the patients. They concluded: “Further studies exploring mediators and moderators of response will be important.
The study was supported by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.