Light Therapy Provides a Brighter Outlook for Many in Need

A recent study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry shows that light therapy may actually help with depression, which affects about seven percent of American adults each year. Researchers studied a small group of adults with this condition, which yielded some compelling results.

Study participants who used light therapy sat in front of a light box for 30 minutes a day right after waking up. Among the 32 patients who did light therapy alone and the 29 who combined light therapy with Prozac, 44 percent and 59 percent experienced remission after eight weeks, respectively. By comparison, only 19 percent of the 31 patients who just took Prozac saw favorable results.

Many questions remain about how light therapy could affect depression. But according to Dr. Richard S. Schwartz, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, it’s likely related to shifting circadian rhythms so that your body thinks it’s earlier in the day.

In addition to depression, emerging evidence shows that light therapy may also help with bipolar disorder, chronic pain and improve sleep for those who suffer from dementia.