We all know that getting morning light each day significantly improves seasonal blues (or winter depression.)
But a new study shows that light therapy lifts depression — even depression that is NOT seasonally related — *more effectively* than antidepressant drug therapy.
The assumption has always been that major depressive disorder is different from seasonal depression, but this study shows that light therapy can be used on it’s own to treat depression whether seasonal or not.
Published in JAMA Psychiatry on Nov 18, 2015, this placebo controlled study supports the use of a non-pharmaceutical intervention over a pharmaceutical intervention, which is a big deal in the world of holistic medicine.
- 122 patients being treated for depression randomly assigned to either a 30 minute session of light therapy or a placebo device alone, a combo of light therapy plus an antidepressant medication, or a combo of the placebo device and antidepressant medication.
- The depressed patients had to have a major depressive disorder lasting at least 45 weeks or longer.
- Light therapy was a 30 minute a day exposure to a fluorescent light box as soon as possible after awakening in the morning.
- After only 4 weeks, depression assessment scores were significantly better than baseline assessment in both groups using the light therapy (either with Rx or without a Rx antidepressant.)
Notably, in patients who were using only one therapy — either the lightbox alone or the placebo box and the antidepressant drug therapy alone — the lightbox therapy was actually significantly MORE effective than drug therapy alone in treating even NON-SEASONAL depression.
Not only does a bright AM light help with shifting the circadian rhythm and restoring a healthy day-night rhythm…
…but light therapy is non-invasive, non-toxic, relatively inexpensive (drugstores sell lightboxes that, over the course of medical treatment, are much less expensive than prescriptions drugs) and have no negative side effects (no weight gain, decreased libido, negative GI effects, etc…)
Up until now, light boxes have typically only been recommended for treating seasonal depression… but this study now shows that there is an antidepressant effect in nonseasonal depression and is a welcome choice for patients wishing to supplement their antidepressant therapy or avoid using Rx antidepressants all together.
After reading this medical report, I feel convinced that light therapy should be first line of treatment, before using Rx medications, in the treatment of all forms of depressive disorder.
Light therapy can be used safely in conjunction with medical treatments (including Rx medications) so if you are on an anti-depressant, augment your treatment with light therapy and it’s possible you can work with your physician to decrease dose!
And if you are not on an antidepressant but suffer from depressed mood, whether seasonal or not, consider using lightbox therapy before giving those antidepressants a try.
One month of morning light was enough to make more of a difference in depression treatment than a prescription antidepressant!
You can get morning light daily even without use of a lightbox – your pineal gland benefits from exposure to natural light every AM even when that light is cloudy or dim outside.
Make a habit of going out every morning immediately after waking up and grabbing a few minutes of daylight.
Better yet, take a warm cup of tea, hot water with lemon, or your AM coffee and sit on the earth grounded for 30 minutes (or take a nice AM walk!) and you will do more to prevent or treat mood disorders than taking drugs each day.
And now you know! Light isn’t just for treating the winter blues — it’s our natural rhythm and something our body craves to help us feel our best no matter what the season.
I have combed through thousands of light therapy boxes to bring you the absolutely most effective, least expensive, most portable light therapy box that truly works…
… and it’s waiting for you right here!
I’d love to send it to you.
To your natural well being, no matter what season it is…