A clinical trial suggests that bright light therapy could help treat symptoms of major depression in older adults. The trial looked at close to 90 adults aged 60 or over who had been diagnosed with clinical depression.
About half of the patients were randomly assigned to bright light therapy for three weeks. This involved spending an hour each morning with the same kind of light-therapy box as that used for treating seasonal affective disorder.
"The results of the trial showed those given bright light therapy made improvements over the controls, and the improvements were comparable to the use of antidepressant drugs ... The light-therapy group also showed an increased level in the evening of the sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin, and a decrease in levels of cortisol, the stress hormone."