Canadian researchers “were surprised” to find that light therapy in combination with antidepressants was very effective in treating patients with non-seasonal depression.
Exposure to a fluorescent light box has long been used as a treatment for seasonal affective disorder. This is a condition which affects some Canadians in winter, when there are fewer daylight hours and we are less likely to go outside and benefit from it.
‘Significant improvement’ with light therapy
Patients were exposed to the special light for 30 minutes each day for a trial period of eight weeks in this study by researchers at the University of British Columbia, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto.
Those who got the light therapy in combination with antidepressants “saw significant improvement in their symptoms, while those who received only one of the treatments did not see the same level of improvement,” says Dr. Anthony Levitt, study co-author in a news release.
Medication does not always work
Researchers say this is an important discovery since the use of medication only works in 60 per cent of cases of depression. Light therapy is proving to be another tool that can be used to help those who are depressed.
About eight per cent of Canadians experience major depression at some time in their lives, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.