New Research Into Treatments for SAD

It’s another New Year and another January. And while I wish everyone a Happy New Year, this is the time of year when those of us with depression fear its return. But there is some new research coming out of the University of Vermont that you may want to investigate.

Researcher, Kelly Rohan, found that “Talk outshines light in keeping the winter blues at bay.” According to Science Daily who reported this research was seen in the November issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry… “Two winters after the initial treatment, 46 percent of research subjects given light therapy reported a recurrence of depression compared with 27 percent of those who were administered CBT. Depressive symptoms were also more severe for those who received light therapy. “

“Rohan found that CBT, or cognitive-behavioral therapy was significantly better over time. In fact, the treatment was effective at addressing acute episodes of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and a SAD-tailored version of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) was significantly better at preventing relapse in future winters.”

Over 14 million Americans suffer from SAD, ranging from 1.5 percent of the population in southern states like Florida to over 9 percent in the northern regions of the country. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of all cases of recurrent depression follow a seasonal pattern.

“Light therapy is a palliative treatment, like blood pressure medication, that requires you to keep using the treatment for it to be effective,” said Rohan. “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,” she said.

The study showed that, by the second winter, only 30 percent of light therapy subjects were still using the equipment.

Cognitive-behavior therapy, by contrast, is a preventive treatment, Rohan said. Once SAD sufferers learn its basic skills it has enduring impact, giving the person a sense of control over their symptoms.

So whether you use CBT or light therapy, be sure to take the time to take care of yourself until that sun starts to shine.