Seasonal depression, also called seasonal affective disorder or SAD, is a problem that many people deal with as the seasons change and we have fewer daylight hours. There are a number of therapy options available for his condition, an two of these are light therapy and talk therapy. Sadness, depression, and excessive fatigue are common and many people experience these symptoms in the winter months when the days are shorter. A new study shows that when it comes to treating seasonal depression talk therapy may provide more effective results than light therapy. Cognitive Behavioral therapy or CBT may be more effective according to researchers from the University of Vermont. The researchers found that light therapy can be helpful when the depression and other SAD symptoms are acute, but a CBT treatment method tailored specifically for SAD patients provided long term and future improvements as well.
The University of Vermont study is the very first one to examine how effective light therapy is over time and whether CBT is more effective over a longer period. Kelly Rohan, a psychology professor, explained “Light therapy is a palliative treatment, like blood pressure medication, that requires you to keep using the treatment for it to be effective. Adhering to the light therapy prescription upon waking for 30 minutes to an hour every day for up to five months in dark states can be burdensome.” Rohan also discussed CBT therapy and stated “The degree of improvement was substantial. Both treatments showed large, clinically significant improvements in depressive symptoms over six weeks in the winter.”