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.