(Mirror Daily, United States) – Winter’s coming and with it the clocks have turned back. Witnessing the 4:45 p.m. sunsets is definitely a bummer for all of us, but there are people who have it way worse: those suffering by Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Basically, their mental health goes down as the sun does, and the most researched and widely-used treatment for SAD patients is light-therapy. In order to avert any symptoms of the disorder, they have to sit each day under a very bright lamp for approximately 30 minutes.
A new study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry found that cognitive behavioral therapy is a better alternative for SAD patients than light therapy. The research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health followed 177 people in what is said to be the largest randomized trial to date.
For the study, participants underwent either light therapy or CBT crafted for SAD patients. The experiment went on for six weeks, then participants were required to check back in with the researchers the nest two winters. For the first winter, both therapies seemed to give rather equal results in reducing people’s depressive symptoms.
Efficiency in putting the SAD into remission remained evenly matched for both CBT and light therapy in the first follow-up appointment, as well. But by the time of the second follow-up appointment, it was obvious that CBT was a winner.
Among the CBT group, 27.3 percent of patients had a depression comeback the second winter, whereas 45.6 percent of those who underwent light therapy. SAD symptoms were also less severe for the patients in the CBT group. Even after researchers ruled out the possible effects of other treatments the patients tried in the meantime, the CBT group was still way ahead of the light-therapy group.
Lead author Kelly Rohan, a professor of psychology at the University of Vermont, said that CBT teaches patients a set of preventive skills they can use whenever, while light-therapy requires a daily dependency on the light in order for it to work. CBT is more of a permanent solution, while the light box fails to give the patient that sense of control over the SAD symptoms.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is also beneficial for non-seasonal depression, and even though SAD is highly influenced by the environment, patients are encouraged to focus on treating their depression. In the end, you can’t control rising and setting of the sun, but you can change your thinking style and your behavior.
Image Source: Stay Well Blog