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Light therapy and fluoxetine similarly effective for improving seasonal affective disorder

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Q What is the comparative efficacy and safety of light therapy and fluoxetine for seasonal affective disorder?


Embedded ImageDesign:

Multicentre randomised controlled trial.

Embedded ImageAllocation:


Embedded ImageBlinding:

Double blind.

Embedded ImageFollow up period:

Eight weeks (treatment period only).

Embedded ImageSetting:

Four mood disorder clinics in Canada; September to February from 2000 to 2003.

Embedded ImagePatients:

Ninety six adult outpatients with a seasonal (winter onset) pattern of major depressive disorder (Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV) and a score of ⩾23 on the 24-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) or ⩾20 on the 17-item HDRS. Main exclusions: pregnancy or risk of pregnancy; lactation; high risk of suicide; organic mental disorders; serious medical or psychiatric comorbidity; retinal disease; previous light therapy or fluoxetine; formal psychotherapy (current or within the past 3 months); shift work or travelling south during the study.

Embedded ImageIntervention:

10 000-lux light …

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  • For correspondence: Dr Lam, Director, Mood Disorders Centre, UBC Hospital, 2255 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 2A1, Canada; r.lam{at}

  • Sources of funding: a grant from the Canadian institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and a CIHR/Wyeth Postdoctoral Fellowship Award to Dr Michalak. Light boxes were supplied by Uplift Technologies.


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