[Paleopsych] NYT: Vital Signs: Therapy: Lighting Up a Life, Literally
checker at panix.com
Tue Apr 19 13:18:55 UTC 2005
Vital Signs: Therapy: Lighting Up a Life, Literally
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
Exposure to bright artificial light can relieve some cases of
depression as effectively as psychotherapy or antidepressant
medication, new research suggests.
In a statistical review of 20 rigorously designed studies, researchers
found strong evidence that exposure to artificial broad-spectrum light
was a good treatment not only for seasonal affective disorder, in
which people become more depressed in the darker days of winter, but
for the more common nonseasonal depression. The review appears in the
April issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry.
Dr. Robert N. Golden, professor and chairman of psychiatry at the
University of North Carolina School of Medicine and the lead author,
said he was once skeptical of such treatments.
"I noticed that there were a lot of really bad studies being
published" that claimed good results based on weak evidence, Dr.
Golden said. "But when you throw out the bad studies and look at the
good ones, the data are actually very impressive."
Light therapy usually involves sitting in front of white fluorescent
lights with eyes open but not looking directly at the light source.
Treatment time varies from 15 minutes to 90 minutes a day.
Dawn simulation, a variation of the treatment, recreates the timing
and intensity of a normal sunrise each morning. Symptoms can start to
diminish within weeks.
Dr. Golden warns that the studies have not been large and that the
standards for what constitutes exactly the right exposure have not yet
More information about the paleopsych