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Commentary |

A Turning Point for Seasonal Affective Disorder and Light Therapy Research?

David H. Avery, MD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1998;55(10):863-864. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.55.10.863.
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THE STUDIES of bright light therapy in the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD; also known as winter depression) in this issue of the ARCHIVES13 are sound studies that address important fundamental questions. Is bright light therapy more than a placebo effect? Is morning bright light therapy more effective than evening bright light?

Eastman  CIYoung  MAFogg  LFLiu  LMeaden  PM Bright light treatment of winter depression: a placebo-controlled trial. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1998;55883- 889
Terman  MTerman  JSRoss  DC A controlled trial of timed bright light and negative air ionization for treatment of winter depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1998;55875- 882
Lewy  AJBauer  VKCutler  NLSack  RLAhmed  SThomas  KHBlood  MLLatham Jackson  JM Morning vs evening light treatment of patients with winter depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1998;55890- 896
Terman  MTerman  JQuitkin  FMcGrath  PStewart  JRafferty  B Light therapy for seasonal affective disorder: a review of efficacy. Neuropsychopharmacology. 1989;21- 22
Fisher  SGreenberg  RP How sound is the double-blind design for evaluating psychotropic drugs?. J Nerv Ment Dis. 1993;181345- 350
Eastman  CI What the placebo literature can tell us about light therapy for SAD. Psychopharmacol Bull. 1990;26495- 504
Eastman  CILahmeyer  HWWatell  LGGood  GDYoung  MA A placebo-controlled trial of light treatment for winter depression. J Affect Disord. 1992;26211- 222
Lam  RWGorman  CPMichalon  MSteiner  MLevitt  AJCorral  MRWatson  GDMorehouse  RLTam  WJoffe  RT Multicenter, placebo-controlled study of fluoxetine in seasonal affective disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 1995;1521765- 1770
Rabkin  JGStewart  JWMcGrath  PJMarkowitz  JSHarrison  WQuitkin  FM Baseline characteristics of 10-day placebo washout responders in antidepressant trials. Psychiatry Res. 1987;219- 22
Albert  PSRosen  LNAlexander  JRRosenthal  NE The effect of daily variation in weather and sleep on seasonal affective disorder. Psychiatry Res. 1990;3651- 63
Wirz-Justice  AGraw  PKrauchi  KGisin  BJochum  AArendt  JFisch  HBuddeberg  CPoldinger  W Light therapy in seasonal affective disorder is independent of time of day or circadian phase. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1993;50929- 937
Terman  MAmira  LTerman  JS Predictors of response and nonresponse to light treatment for winter depression. Am J Psychiatry. 1996;1531423- 1429
Avery  DHKhan  ADager  SRCohen  SCox  GBDunner  DL Morning or evening bright light treatment of winter depression? the significance of hypersomnia. Biol Psychiatry. 1991;29117- 126
Terman  M Problems and prospects for use of bright light as a therapeutic intervention. Wetterberg  LedLight and Biological Rhythms in Man Stockholm, Sweden Pergamon Press1993;421- 437
Lewy  AJSack  RLMiller  SHoban  TM Antidepressant and circadian phaseshifting effects of light. Science. 1987;235352- 354
Sack  RLLewy  AJWhite  DMSinger  CMFireman  MJVandiver  R Morning vs evening light treatment for winter depression: evidence that the therapeutic effects of light are mediated by circadian phase shifts. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1990;47343- 351
Avery  DHDahl  KSavage  MVBrengelmann  GLLarsen  LHKenny  MAEder  DNVitiello  MVPrinz  PN Circadian temperature and cortisol rhythms during a constant routine are phase-delayed in hypersomnic winter depression. Biol Psychiatry. 1997;411109- 1123
Avery  DHBolte  MAWolfson  JKKazaras  AL Dawn simulation compared with a dim red signal in the treatment of winter depression. Biol Psychiatry. 1994;36180- 188
Lam  RWed Seasonal Affective Disorder and Beyond.  Washington, DC American Psychiatric Press1998;

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