Light Therapy May Help Seniors Kick The Blues

By Staff Writer

Light therapy may benefit older individuals who have been diagnosed with major non-seasonal depression, according to a new study from Dutch researchers.

Treatment involving light has been used for years to help those with seasonal affective disorder. However, this is among the first studies to show that it may also be effective in treating depression that is unrelated to the changing seasons.

For the study, which was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers recruited a group of elderly participants. Half were assigned to receive light therapy while the rest were given standard treatments for depression. The investigators said that participants in the light therapy group showed significant improvement in their condition.

The findings could come as a major benefit to elderly individuals. Senior citizens account for more than 16 percent of total depression cases, but can be difficult to treat because they are often on several other medications that may cause harmful interactions with antidepressants. Light therapy may be a simple way for them improve their condition without resorting to pharmaceuticals.