Bright light augments antidepressant effects of medication and wake therapy

Depress Anxiety. 2002;16(1):1-3. doi: 10.1002/da.10036.


Inpatient studies have suggested that bright light therapy can be used to sustain the antidepressant effects of wake therapy (sleep deprivation). In an outpatient trial, a half night of home wake treatment was followed by 1 week of light treatment. All subjects had Major Depressive Disorders according to DSM-IV criteria and were receiving concomitant antidepressant medication. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive either 10,000 lux bright white light for 30 min between 6 and 9 AM or dim red (placebo) light at a comparable time. Seven subjects completed treatment with bright white light and six completed treatment with placebo. On the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS17, SIGH-SAD-SR version), the group receiving bright light improved 27% in 1 week (P=0.002). The group receiving placebo did not improve, except for one outlier. The benefit of bright light was significant compared to placebo with removal of the outlier (P<0.025).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Phototherapy*
  • Psychotherapy
  • Sleep Deprivation / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents