full-spectrum light therapy beats Prozac for Seasonal Affective Disorder

It’s cheap, it’s safe, it’s easy, and it’s better than Prozac.

Light therapy is a well known and well researched treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the depression that is brought on by the lack of light in fall and winter. Light therapy leads to remission or near remission in 61% of people with SAD, and studies show that it works as well as Prozac but faster and safer (Am J Psychiatry 2006;163:805-12).

That light therapy should work when the cause of depression is a lack of light is exciting but, perhaps, not totally surprising. That it should work when the cause is not a lack of light would be a surprising result.

But that was the result of a double-blind study that included 122 adults with nonseasonal major depressive disorder.

Each person in the study got either half an hour a day of full-spectrum light therapy plus a placebo, half an hour a day of full-spectrum light therapy plus 20mg of Prozac, Prozac without light therapy; or placebo (inactive light therapy plus placebo pill). The study lasted for 8 weeks.

At the end of the 8 week study, the people who got the full-spectrum light therapy improved significantly more than the people who got the Prozac. And the advantage was big: 43.8% of the light therapy group went into remission compared to only 19.4% of the Prozac group.

What if you are on Prozac and add full-spectrum light therapy? The combination led to a 58.6% rate of remission.

This intriguing study suggests a safe and simple addition that could help you to overcome depression.

JAMA Psychiatry 2016;73(1):56-63

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For much more on  treating depression, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia.

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The Natural Path is intended for educational purposes only and is in no way intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. For health problems, consult a qualified health practitioner for a comprehensive program.

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