Objective: Bright light therapy in seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has been studied extensively. However, little attention has been given to subsyndromal seasonal affective disorder (SSAD) or the use of bright light in the workplace. Many patients using bright light boxes complain of the inconvenience of use. Much of this inconvenience involves the often-recommended early timing of the bright light therapy. Patients, who already have difficulty awakening, often have difficulty using the bright light therapy soon after awakening before going to work. If bright light could be used effectively in the workplace, the treatment would be more convenient; the improved convenience would probably improve compliance. In this study, we studied the effectiveness of bright light therapy in subjects with SSAD in the workplace, comparing morning bright light with afternoon bright light.
Method: Morning and afternoon bright light treatment (2500 lux) were compared in 30 subsyndromal seasonal affective disorder patients using the bright light therapy in the workplace. Hamilton Depression Ratings and subjective measures of mood, energy, alertness and productivity were assessed before and after 2 weeks of light therapy.
Results: Both morning and evening bright light significantly decreased the depression ratings and improved the subjective mood, energy, alertness and productivity scores. However, there were no significant differences between the two times of administration of the bright light treatment. Both bright light treatments were well tolerated.
Conclusion: Bright light given in the workplace improves subjective ratings of mood, energy, alertness and productivity in SSAD subjects. Morning and afternoon bright lights resulted in similar levels of improvement.