Wake and light therapy for moderate-to-severe depression - a randomized controlled trial

Kragh M, Martiny K, Videbech P, Møller DN, Wihlborg CS, Lindhardt T, Larsen ER. 

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2017 Dec;136(6):559-570. doi: 10.1111/acps.12741. Epub 2017 Apr 19. PubMed PMID: 28422269.


To examine the efficacy of using wake and light therapy as a supplement to standard treatment of hospitalized patients with depression.

In this randomized, controlled study, 64 patients with moderate-to-severe depression were allocated to standard treatment or to the intervention, which additionally consisted of three wake therapy sessions in one week, 30-min daily light treatment and sleep time stabilization over the entire nine-week study period.

Patients in the wake therapy group had a significant decrease in depressive symptoms in week one as measured by HAM-D17 , 17.39 (CI 15.6-19.2) vs. 20.19 (CI 18.3-22.09) (P = 0.04), whereas no statistically significant differences were found between the groups in weeks two to nine. At week nine, the wake therapy group had a significantly larger increase in general self-efficacy (P = 0.001), and waking up during nights was a significantly less frequent problem (1.9 times vs. 3.2) (P = 0.0008). In most weeks, significantly fewer patients in the wake therapy group slept during the daytime, and if they slept, their naps were shorter (week three: 66 min vs. 117 min P = 0.02).

The antidepressant effect initially achieved could not be maintained during the nine-week study period. However, sleep and general self-efficacy improved.

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