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Light therapy can treat all kinds of depression, says UBC study

DH Vancouver Staff Nov 18, 2015 10:14 am

Those who suffer from depression may have another, much less expensive, treatment option on their hands to ward off the mental illness’ distressing symptoms.

Researchers at UBC have found that light therapy, commonly associated with treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is effective for the treatment of all types of depression, not just the kind brought on by low daylight exposure.

Dr. Raymond Lam, a UBC professor and psychiatrist at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health, and his colleagues found that consistent light therapy for 30 minutes every day upon waking, coupled with the antidepressant fluoxetine (brand name Prozac), significantly helped patients manage their depression, more so than the patients who only took the antidepressant.

Lam says the discovery is especially important for the 40% of patients who do not receive benefits from traditional medications.

“It’s important to find new treatments because our current therapies don’t work for everyone. Our findings should help to improve the lives of people with depression,” he said. The Canadian Mental Health Association says 8% of Canadians will experience major depression during their lifetime.

Light therapy lamps are widely available online for about $100.

DH Vancouver Staff
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