The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of mood disorders: A review and meta-analysis of the evidence

Robert N. Golden, Bradley N. Gaynes, R. David Ekstrom, Robert M. Hamer, Frederick M. Jacobsen, Trisha Suppes, Katherine L. Wisner, Charles Nemeroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

529 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the evidence base for the efficacy of light therapy in treating mood disorders. Method: The authors systematically searched PubMed (January 1975 to July 2003) to identify randomized, controlled trials of light therapy for mood disorders that fulfilled predefined criteria. These articles were abstracted, and data were synthesized by disease and intervention category. Results: Only 13% of the studies met the inclusion criteria. Meta-analyses revealed that a significant reduction in depression symptom severity was associated with bright light treatment (eight studies, having an effect size of 0.84 and 95% confidence interval [CI] of 0.60 to 1.08) and dawn simulation in seasonal affective disorder (five studies; effect size=0.73, 95% CI=0.37 to 1.08) and with bright light treatment in nonseasonal depression (three studies; effect size=0.53, 95% CI=0.18 to 0.89). Bright light as an adjunct to antidepressant pharmacotherapy for nonseasonal depression was not effective (five studies; effect size= -0.01, 95% CI=-0.36 to 0.34). Conclusions: Many reports of the efficacy of light therapy are not based on rigorous study designs. This analysis of randomized, controlled trials suggests that bright light treatment and dawn simulation for seasonal affective disorder and bright light for nonseasonal depression are efficacious, with effect sizes equivalent to those in most antidepressant pharmacotherapy trials. Adopting standard approaches to light therapy's specific issues (e.g., defining parameters of active versus placebo conditions) and incorporating rigorous designs (e.g., adequate group sizes, randomized assignment) are necessary to evaluate light therapy for mood disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)656-662
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Volume162
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Phototherapy
Mood Disorders
Meta-Analysis
Light
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Confidence Intervals
Depression
Antidepressive Agents
Randomized Controlled Trials
Therapeutics
Drug Therapy
PubMed
Placebos

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of mood disorders : A review and meta-analysis of the evidence. / Golden, Robert N.; Gaynes, Bradley N.; Ekstrom, R. David; Hamer, Robert M.; Jacobsen, Frederick M.; Suppes, Trisha; Wisner, Katherine L.; Nemeroff, Charles.

In: American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 162, No. 4, 01.04.2005, p. 656-662.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Golden, Robert N. ; Gaynes, Bradley N. ; Ekstrom, R. David ; Hamer, Robert M. ; Jacobsen, Frederick M. ; Suppes, Trisha ; Wisner, Katherine L. ; Nemeroff, Charles. / The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of mood disorders : A review and meta-analysis of the evidence. In: American Journal of Psychiatry. 2005 ; Vol. 162, No. 4. pp. 656-662.
@article{93455e158fc94bef999e7c0d844db140,
title = "The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of mood disorders: A review and meta-analysis of the evidence",
abstract = "Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the evidence base for the efficacy of light therapy in treating mood disorders. Method: The authors systematically searched PubMed (January 1975 to July 2003) to identify randomized, controlled trials of light therapy for mood disorders that fulfilled predefined criteria. These articles were abstracted, and data were synthesized by disease and intervention category. Results: Only 13{\%} of the studies met the inclusion criteria. Meta-analyses revealed that a significant reduction in depression symptom severity was associated with bright light treatment (eight studies, having an effect size of 0.84 and 95{\%} confidence interval [CI] of 0.60 to 1.08) and dawn simulation in seasonal affective disorder (five studies; effect size=0.73, 95{\%} CI=0.37 to 1.08) and with bright light treatment in nonseasonal depression (three studies; effect size=0.53, 95{\%} CI=0.18 to 0.89). Bright light as an adjunct to antidepressant pharmacotherapy for nonseasonal depression was not effective (five studies; effect size= -0.01, 95{\%} CI=-0.36 to 0.34). Conclusions: Many reports of the efficacy of light therapy are not based on rigorous study designs. This analysis of randomized, controlled trials suggests that bright light treatment and dawn simulation for seasonal affective disorder and bright light for nonseasonal depression are efficacious, with effect sizes equivalent to those in most antidepressant pharmacotherapy trials. Adopting standard approaches to light therapy's specific issues (e.g., defining parameters of active versus placebo conditions) and incorporating rigorous designs (e.g., adequate group sizes, randomized assignment) are necessary to evaluate light therapy for mood disorders.",
author = "Golden, {Robert N.} and Gaynes, {Bradley N.} and Ekstrom, {R. David} and Hamer, {Robert M.} and Jacobsen, {Frederick M.} and Trisha Suppes and Wisner, {Katherine L.} and Charles Nemeroff",
year = "2005",
month = "4",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1176/appi.ajp.162.4.656",
language = "English",
volume = "162",
pages = "656--662",
journal = "American Journal of Psychiatry",
issn = "0002-953X",
publisher = "American Psychiatric Association",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of mood disorders

T2 - A review and meta-analysis of the evidence

AU - Golden, Robert N.

AU - Gaynes, Bradley N.

AU - Ekstrom, R. David

AU - Hamer, Robert M.

AU - Jacobsen, Frederick M.

AU - Suppes, Trisha

AU - Wisner, Katherine L.

AU - Nemeroff, Charles

PY - 2005/4/1

Y1 - 2005/4/1

N2 - Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the evidence base for the efficacy of light therapy in treating mood disorders. Method: The authors systematically searched PubMed (January 1975 to July 2003) to identify randomized, controlled trials of light therapy for mood disorders that fulfilled predefined criteria. These articles were abstracted, and data were synthesized by disease and intervention category. Results: Only 13% of the studies met the inclusion criteria. Meta-analyses revealed that a significant reduction in depression symptom severity was associated with bright light treatment (eight studies, having an effect size of 0.84 and 95% confidence interval [CI] of 0.60 to 1.08) and dawn simulation in seasonal affective disorder (five studies; effect size=0.73, 95% CI=0.37 to 1.08) and with bright light treatment in nonseasonal depression (three studies; effect size=0.53, 95% CI=0.18 to 0.89). Bright light as an adjunct to antidepressant pharmacotherapy for nonseasonal depression was not effective (five studies; effect size= -0.01, 95% CI=-0.36 to 0.34). Conclusions: Many reports of the efficacy of light therapy are not based on rigorous study designs. This analysis of randomized, controlled trials suggests that bright light treatment and dawn simulation for seasonal affective disorder and bright light for nonseasonal depression are efficacious, with effect sizes equivalent to those in most antidepressant pharmacotherapy trials. Adopting standard approaches to light therapy's specific issues (e.g., defining parameters of active versus placebo conditions) and incorporating rigorous designs (e.g., adequate group sizes, randomized assignment) are necessary to evaluate light therapy for mood disorders.

AB - Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the evidence base for the efficacy of light therapy in treating mood disorders. Method: The authors systematically searched PubMed (January 1975 to July 2003) to identify randomized, controlled trials of light therapy for mood disorders that fulfilled predefined criteria. These articles were abstracted, and data were synthesized by disease and intervention category. Results: Only 13% of the studies met the inclusion criteria. Meta-analyses revealed that a significant reduction in depression symptom severity was associated with bright light treatment (eight studies, having an effect size of 0.84 and 95% confidence interval [CI] of 0.60 to 1.08) and dawn simulation in seasonal affective disorder (five studies; effect size=0.73, 95% CI=0.37 to 1.08) and with bright light treatment in nonseasonal depression (three studies; effect size=0.53, 95% CI=0.18 to 0.89). Bright light as an adjunct to antidepressant pharmacotherapy for nonseasonal depression was not effective (five studies; effect size= -0.01, 95% CI=-0.36 to 0.34). Conclusions: Many reports of the efficacy of light therapy are not based on rigorous study designs. This analysis of randomized, controlled trials suggests that bright light treatment and dawn simulation for seasonal affective disorder and bright light for nonseasonal depression are efficacious, with effect sizes equivalent to those in most antidepressant pharmacotherapy trials. Adopting standard approaches to light therapy's specific issues (e.g., defining parameters of active versus placebo conditions) and incorporating rigorous designs (e.g., adequate group sizes, randomized assignment) are necessary to evaluate light therapy for mood disorders.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=16844381315&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=16844381315&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1176/appi.ajp.162.4.656

DO - 10.1176/appi.ajp.162.4.656

M3 - Article

C2 - 15800134

AN - SCOPUS:16844381315

VL - 162

SP - 656

EP - 662

JO - American Journal of Psychiatry

JF - American Journal of Psychiatry

SN - 0002-953X

IS - 4

ER -