Natural treatment for depression: Try bright light therapy

Valkee Light Therapy

By pH health care professionals

In the winter and around the holidays, many people struggle with seasonal affective disorder (tied to the cold and dark season) and depression. Their treatment may include anti-depressants, psychotherapy and even light therapy. Light therapy refers to exposure to artificial light to affect your brain chemicals. By mimicking natural outdoor light, light therapy can lift your mood.

In research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Canadian physicians have demonstrated that light therapy and antidepressants produce the most consistent success in depression patients. 122 patients with major depressive disorder (depression for more than two weeks) were recruited. None had ever been on fluoxetine (generic Prozac; referred to here as Prozac) or light therapy.

The patients were divided into four groups; light therapy only, Prozac only, Prozac + light therapy, and no treatment at all (placebo). The light therapy was in the form of 30 minutes of exposure every morning to a 10,000 lux light box (10,000 lux is an official measure of light and is equivalent to being in daylight).

The researchers used a depression scale to assess how depressed the subjects felt. The combination of light and Prozac doubled the score improvement on the depression scale, compared to taking Prozac alone, and the effect was sustained over two months of light and Prozac therapy. The results were very similar to a prior study that showed that light therapy and Zoloft improved depression symptoms more than the individual treatments alone.

The researchers acknowledged that the results might not be the same in all regions. For example, the effect of light therapy might be more dramatic in Canada (where the studies took place) compared to sunny California. Still, light therapy is a safe mode of therapy for patients with depression to try.

If you are against prescription drugs for depression, even the light box alone may provide some benefit, according to the study. Always get a doctor's help to manage depression, and call 911 if you feel compelled to hurt yourself or anyone else.

If you are local to the Los Angeles area, visit one of our health centers and ask to try out the Valkee Bright Light Headset, which conveniently and discreetly provides bright light therapy through ear buds so you can enjoy the benefits as you travel, while you work or whenever you need it.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.