The lack of sustained effect of bright light, after discontinuation, in non-seasonal major depression

Martiny K, Lunde M, Undén M, Dam H, Bech P. 

Psychol Med. 2006 Sep;36(9):1247-52. Epub 2006 Jun 7. Erratum in: Psychol Med. 2006 Sep;36(9):1336. PubMed PMID: 16756691.


Recently accumulated evidence has demonstrated that bright-light therapy in combination with antidepressants is effective in patients with non-seasonal major depression. Whether bright light has a sustained effect after discontinuation is, however, poorly investigated.

In this double-blind randomized study we report the results from a 4-week follow-up period in patients with major non-seasonal depression who had been treated for 5 weeks with sertraline combined with bright-light therapy or sertraline combined with dim-light therapy. At the beginning of the follow-up period the light therapy was stopped while sertraline treatment continued for 4 weeks.

Depression scores decreased substantially in both groups, resulting in high response and remission rates in both groups after 9 weeks of treatment. The difference in depression scores at week 5, favouring the bright-light-treated group, disappeared gradually in the 4-week follow-up period, resulting in similar end-point scores.

Bright light did not have a sustained effect after discontinuation. The offset of effect was complete after 4 weeks.

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