HealthDay News — Light therapy, a treatment for seasonal affective disorder, may also benefit nonseasonal depression, according to research published online Nov. 18 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Raymond Lam, MD, a professor and head of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues randomly assigned 122 adults with major depression not related to seasonal affective disorder to one of four groups.

One group got 30 minutes of bright light treatment a day and took a placebo pill, while another used a device that was not light therapy and took fluoxetine (Prozac). A third group took a placebo pill and used a placebo device, while a fourth took fluoxetine and got light therapy. The researchers followed the men and women for eight weeks.

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“About 60% of the patients who got the combination treatment went into remission with their symptoms, compared to about 40% on light therapy alone,” Lam told HealthDay. The antidepressant alone was not superior to placebo medication. Only about 30% of those on placebo medication and sham light treatment had remission, as did just 20% of those on the antidepressant with sham light treatment.

“Bright light treatment, both as monotherapy and in combination with fluoxetine, was efficacious and well tolerated in the treatment of adults with nonseasonal major depressive disorder,” the authors write. “The combination treatment had the most consistent effects.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.


Lam RW, et al. Efficacy of Bright Light Treatment, Fluoxetine, and the Combination in Patients With Nonseasonal Major Depressive Disorder. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015; doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.2235.