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Keywords:

  • light therapy;
  • non-seasonal depression;
  • melancholia;
  • randomised controlled trial

Objective:  To investigate the use of bright light therapy as an adjunct treatment to sertraline in non-seasonal major depression.

Method:  In a randomised double-blind trial, 102 patients were treated for 5 weeks with either white bright light (10 000 lux, 1 h daily) or red dim light (50 lux, 30 min daily). All patients were treated with sertraline in a fixed dose of 50 mg daily. The clinician-rated depression scales used were the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D17), Hamilton six-item subscale (HAM-D6), Melancholia Scale (MES) and the seven ‘atypical’ items from the SIGH-SAD.

Results:  One-hundred and two patients were included in the study. Analyses showed that the reduction in depression scores in the bright light group was statistically significantly larger than in the dim light group on all scales. The scale most sensitive at endpoint was the HAM-D6, which includes the core symptoms of depression.

Conclusion:  The study results support the use of bright light as an adjunct treatment to antidepressants in non-seasonal depression.