Chronotherapeutics such as wake therapy and bright light therapy are well-established methods in treating adults with depressive disorders and are additionally beneficent for sleep regulation. Few studies concerning chronotherapeutics in juvenile depression exist, though the established treatments are insufficient and sleep disorders often co-occur. In this study, we investigate the impact of two types of chronotherapeutics on depressive symptoms and sleep behavior in a juvenile setting. Juvenile inpatients (n = 62) with moderate to severe depressive symptoms took part in either a combined setting consisting of one night wake therapy followed by 2 weeks bright light therapy or in a setting of bright light therapy alone. Depressive symptoms, general psychopathology, clinical impression and sleep behavior were measured before (T1), directly after (T2) and 2 weeks after intervention (T3). Depressive symptoms decreased while sleep quality increased in both groups. The bright light therapy alone group showed further improvement at T3 in regards to depressive symptoms. Correlation analyses indicated significant negative correlations between sleep quality and awaking after restorative sleep with the depressive symptoms. However, only awaking after restorative sleep had a predictive impact on treatment outcome. The present study provides first evidence for a positive impact of chronotherapeutic interventions on treatment outcome in depressed juvenile inpatients. Bright light therapy seems to stabilize and further enhance reduction of depressive symptoms during follow-up, whereas one night wake therapy does not have an additional long-lasting impact on depressive symptoms and sleep parameters.
Keywords: Adolescence; Bright light therapy; Chronotherapy; Depression; Juvenile; Sleep deprivation.