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Bright light treatment reduces symptoms in older adults with non-seasonal major depression

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Question: Is bright light an effective treatment for older adults with non-seasonal major depression?

Patients: 89 community-dwelling adults (aged ≥60 years) with major depressive disorder (Geriatric Depression Scale score ≥5) recruited from outpatient clinics, general practice and advertising. Depression was confirmed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition) Axis I Disorders, the Structured Interview Guide for the Hamilton Scale for Depression (HAM-D) Seasonal Affective Disorder Version and the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale. Exclusions: psychiatric, neurological or opthalmological comorbidity; research incompatibility; and miscellaneous, unspecified conditions.

Setting: Community setting, Amsterdam, recruitment between 2003 and 2007.

Intervention: Bright light treatment (BLT) involving a mist-blue filter with high-throughput of bright, pale blue light (7500 lux). The placebo condition involved a light box with a blood-red filter allowing low-throughput of dim red light (50 lux), which is considered to be biologically inactive. Interventions were delivered every morning for 60 min, for 3 weeks.

Outcomes: Change in mean HAM-D …

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