05 January 2011

Bright Light May Ease Depression in Elderly

Do you suffer from depression? I do, although lately I have been keeping a few more lights burning to combat the lack of sunshine from the dreary winter days. This is apparently what I should be doing if I read this study correctly.

Although I am not sure what type of lights and specially designed light boxes the study used, it apparently improved the symptoms of depression by about 54 percent in older adults with depression.

Also not mentioned was the type of depression it relieved. Was it mild or severe depression? From the tone of the article in WebMd, it could have been severe depression. The bright light therapy improves sleep and optimizes levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Low levels of serotonin is often targeted by antidepressant drugs.

The study indicates that light therapy may provide an alternative for patients who refuse, resist, or do not tolerate antidepressant treatment. The study was used by 89 adults over the age of 60 and diagnosed with depression. They were divide into two groups. One group had bright light for an hour in the early morning hours and the other half exposed to a dim red light treatment.

After three weeks the bright light group showed a 43 percent improvement and the red light only a 36 percent improvement. At the end of six weeks the bright light group shows a 54 percent improvement compared to 33 percent for the red light people.

The results also showed level of decreased stress hormone cortisol and improved sleep quality in the bright light therapy group. This compares to improvements found with people using antidepressant drug treatment.

So I will continue to use more lights when I feel depressed and hope that I continue to get the results that I have felt with this. Read the study article here.

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