BANISH THE BLUES WITH LIGHT THERAPY

Light therapy for people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — a tendency to become depressed in the fall and winter — may be more easily administered because of newer, more efficient light-producing devices. Traditional treatment involves exposure to a light box that emits 5,000-10,000 lux, for 30-60 minutes daily. The therapy has been shown to be as effective as fluoxetine (Prozac) in treating symptoms of SAD. However, new boxes using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been shown to be more convenient, effective, and energy efficient. A recent study published in BioMed Central Psychiatry randomly assigned 26 subjects with SAD to either an LED device called a Litebook or a placebo. SAD symptoms in about 57 percent of the Litebook users were eliminated after four weeks of treatment, compared with 11 percent in the placebo group. Results of the study suggest that 30 minutes of daily exposure to the Litebook LED device is effective for treating SAD symptoms and that its convenience, compared with traditional light therapy, may lead to increased use.

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