CBT As Effective As Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder

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While light therapy is often thought as a first-line treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a new study has found that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is just as effective.

Kelly Rohan, PhD, of the University of Vermont, and colleagues enrolled 177 adults who had a recurrent, seasonal pattern of major depression to receive either six weeks of CBT (two, 90-minute sessions per week) or light therapy (30 minutes every morning).

Depression was measured by both the Structured Interview Guide for the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression–SAD Version (SIGH-SAD) and Beck Depression Inventory–Second Edition (BDI-II).

Both treatments produced a comparable response in patients, with nearly half of patients in each arm achieving remission criteria, the researchers reported in AJP in Advance.

Remission rates based on the SIGH-SAD measurement  were, 47.6% and 47.2%, respectively, for CBT-SAD and light therapy. On the BDI-II scale, the figures were, respectively, 56% and 63.6%.

“CBT-SAD should be disseminated into practice and considered as a viable alternative to light therapy in treatment decision making,” the authors wrote.

About 500,000 Americans suffer from SAD during the winter, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It affects women more than men and is most commonly seen in young adults.

CBT As Effective As Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder
CBT As Effective As Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is just as effective as light therapy for treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), according to a study published online in AJP in Advance.

While it is known that many people with SAD respond to light therapy, few studies have examined the effectiveness of other therapies. In the current study, Kelly Rohan, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Vermont, and colleagues assigned 177 adults with an episode of major depression recurrent with a seasonal pattern to receive six weeks of CBT (two 90 minute sessions per week) or light therapy (30 minute session each morning).
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