Light therapy shines on other conditions

Exposure to bright light–the treatment of choice for seasonal affective disorder, or SAD–may also help people with other mental health conditions including bulimia nervosa, antepartum depression and nonseasonal depression, preliminary research finds.

“The latest news is that light therapy is just as effective as antidepressants in treating nonseasonal depression–it’s truly exciting,” says Columbia University psychologist Michael Terman, PhD, a SAD researcher who uses both light and medications to treat patients. “The findings almost make me say that it’s only by happenstance that light therapy was discovered and developed in the context of SAD.”

That said, the literature in the area is still sparse, emphasizes Dan Oren, MD, a veteran SAD researcher at Yale University.

“No one has done any solid head-to-head comparisons that prove that one form of treatment is better than another in treating nonseasonal depression,” he notes.