The lack of sustained effect of bright light, after discontinuation, in non-seasonal major depression

Psychol Med. 2006 Sep;36(9):1247-52. doi: 10.1017/S0033291706008105. Epub 2006 Jun 7.


Background: Recently accumulated evidence has demonstrated that bright-light therapy in combination with antidepressants is effective in patients with non-seasonal major depression. Whether bright light has a sustained effect after discontinuation is, however, poorly investigated.

Method: In this double-blind randomized study we report the results from a 4-week follow-up period in patients with major non-seasonal depression who had been treated for 5 weeks with sertraline combined with bright-light therapy or sertraline combined with dim-light therapy. At the beginning of the follow-up period the light therapy was stopped while sertraline treatment continued for 4 weeks.

Results: Depression scores decreased substantially in both groups, resulting in high response and remission rates in both groups after 9 weeks of treatment. The difference in depression scores at week 5, favouring the bright-light-treated group, disappeared gradually in the 4-week follow-up period, resulting in similar end-point scores.

Conclusions: Bright light did not have a sustained effect after discontinuation. The offset of effect was complete after 4 weeks.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • Psychometrics
  • Seasons*
  • Sertraline / therapeutic use
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Sertraline