During a placebo-controlled study made at the University of British Columbia, researchers have found that light therapy can fight depression all year long, not just during the seasonal winter “blues”.
Considering that depression affects more adults with each passing year, a number that reaches almost 10% of the US population, greater efforts are being put into finding ways of combating this current predicament. Because of its great spread in our country, and the fact that anti-depressants only work in 60% of cases, due to the fact that each person responds differently to depression, it makes this condition extremely dangerous. It is also associated with a high risk of early death, especially in those of a younger age.
The experiment revolved around studying the effects on unconventional methods to decrease depression in 122 people. Out of this study group, those subjected to either light box therapy, or those who had both bright light therapy and anti-depressants administered, showed a greater improvement in their overall mental health and stability when compared to those subjected to placebo medication. The anti-depressant which was used in the trial held at the University of British Columbia was Prozac.
Until now, the bright light therapy was only prescribed to people suffering from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD (aptly named), which occurs prevalently during winter. But due to the fact that the 122 people who were subjected to the study were suffering from major depression, unrelated to SAD, scientists have proven how bright light therapy can be used in most types of depression, not just SAD.
Unfortunately, this type of treatment is claimed to be palliative, meaning that in order for it to work, you need to keep doing it. But this proves to be easy, considering that bright light therapy is almost inexpensive with close to no side effects.
Bright light therapy consists of being exposed to a box which is lit by fluorescent light for 30 minutes after waking up, every day. But even if this type of therapy seems harmless at first glance, people should always consult a specialist or their therapist before attempting it. Mainly due to the fact that in order for this type of therapy to work properly and at its full power, anti-depressant administration is required.
From the study group, 55% of the participants who were exposed to light therapy only presented lighter depression symptoms while the number of those on both Prozac and light therapy was bumped to 76%.
Even though it was proven that light therapy can fight depression all year long, the general public needs to keep its expectations fairly low for the time being, because of the complex nature that depression has, differing from patient to patient.