Recent Blog Articles
Improving access to hearing aids
Can mindfulness change your brain?
Five lifestyle factors that can help prevent gastroesophageal reflux disease
Transient ischemic attacks: Varied symptoms, all important
5 inflammation-fighting food swaps
Is IBD an underrecognized health problem in minority groups?
Sickle cell disease in newborns and children: What families should know and do
COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens: What we do — and don’t — know
Happy trails: Take a hike, now
Sleep well — and reduce your risk of dementia and death
In the journals: Cognitive behavioral therapy more effective than light therapy for relieving seasonal depression
Up to 10% of Americans, about three-quarters of them women, have depressive symptoms at roughly the same time every year, usually November through March. The condition is known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and the first-line treatment today is light therapy — daily exposure to artificial bright light. But according to a study led by investigators at the University of Vermont, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is more effective. The results, which appeared in the September 2009 issue of Behavior Therapy, showed that the benefits of CBT lasted for at least a year.
That finding may be especially significant given the shortcomings of light therapy. The patient has to sit near a "light box" every day for 30 to 45 minutes throughout the winter, a regimen that many can't maintain. There's also a risk to people with certain eye conditions, such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Light therapy can trigger mania or hypomania in people with bipolar disorder. Most important, 20% to 50% of patients just don't respond to it.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.