Light treatment for nonseasonal depression: speed, efficacy, and combined treatment

J Affect Disord. 1998 May;49(2):109-17. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(98)00005-6.


Background: Using bright light for treating major depressive disorders which are not seasonal needs reassessment.

Methods: Clinical trials of light treatment for nonseasonal major depressive disorders were compared with selected trials of light treatment of winter depression and with antidepressant clinical drug trials.

Results: Light treatment of nonseasonal depression produces net benefits in the range of 12-35%, often within 1 week.

Conclusions: Light's value for nonseasonal and seasonal depression are comparable. Light appears to produce faster antidepressant benefits than psychopharmacologic treatment.

Limitations: Direct randomizing comparisons between light and medications for nonseasonal depression are not available.

Clinical relevance: Bright light can be combined with standard therapies for treating nonseasonal depressions and appears synergistic.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Phototherapy*
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder / therapy
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors