INTRODUCTION: The aim of a double-blind study was to assess the efficacy of bright light therapy and/or imipramine in the treatment of inpatients suffering with recurrent non-seasonal major depressive disorder.
METHOD: 34 in-patients with DSM-III-R diagnosis of major depressive disorder, recurrent type, were randomly allocated into 3 treatment groups. After 4-day washout period with baseline assessment they underwent 3 weeks of different types of treatment: a) Group A: bright light therapy (5000 lux from 6-8 a.m.) and imipramine 150 mg/day. b) Group B: bright light therapy (5000 lux from 6-8 a.m.) and imipramine-like placebo. c) Group C: dim red light (500 lux from 6-8 a.m.) and imipramine 150 mg/day. Outcome measures included weekly Hamilton Psychiatric Rating Scale for Depression, Clinical Global Impression Scale, Montgomery and Asberg Psychiatric Rating Scale for Depression and Beck Depression Inventory.
RESULTS: Patients of all three groups improved significantly. The improvement of the patients of group B treated with bright light therapy plus placebo was superior to the other two groups, but not significantly.
CONCLUSION: Bright light therapy can be effective in the treatment of non-seasonal major depressive disorder.