Background: Bright light therapy, an effective therapeutic option for depressive adults, could provide safe, economic, and effective rapid recovery also in adolescents.
Methods: Twenty-eight volunteers, between 14 and 17 years old and suffering from mild depressive disorder according to DSM-IV criteria, completed the study. This was a randomized cross-over trial, i.e. that 14 patients received first placebo (50 lux) for 1 h a day for 1 week and then bright light therapy (2,500 Lux) for 1 week. Fourteen patients received first bright light therapy and then placebo. For assessment of depressive symptoms, Beck's depression inventory scales were administered 1 week before and 1 day before placebo treatment, on the day between placebo and verum treatment, on the day after verum treatment and 1 week after verum treatment. Saliva melatonin and cortisol samples were collected at 08:00 and 20:00 h, 1 week before and 1 day before placebo treatment, on the day between placebo and verum treatment, on the day after verum treatment and 1 week after verum treatment and assayed for melatonin and cortisol to observe any change in circadian timing.
Results: BDI scores improved significantly. The assays of saliva showed significant differences between treatment and placebo. No significant adverse reactions were observed.
Conclusion: Antidepressant response to bright light treatment in this age group was statistically superior to placebo.