Treatment of seasonal affective disorder with light: preliminary Australian experience

Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1989 Sep;23(3):369-72. doi: 10.3109/00048678909068291.


Six patients with a history of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) were treated with bright artificial light. Patients presented with at least two consecutive years of loss of energy, difficulty in working, loss of interest in activities, difficulty in concentrating, increased somnolence, over-eating (carbohydrate craving) and depressed mood. All received seven consecutive days of full-spectrum bright light with an intensity greater than 2,500 lux at a distance of three feet. Evening exposure for two hours resulted in significant clinical improvement. The main improvements were a return to normal sleeping patterns, a reduction in eating habits, improved energy level, a desire to continue with interests and activities and an improvement in mood. Possible mechanisms for the clinical effects of bright light treatment are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Seasons*