Bright Light Relieves Depression in Elderly People


depressed old manBright light at night had always been touted as one of the triggers of stress and sleep disorders. In contrast, for the elderly, bright light it is used as therapy to treat symptoms of depression.

Besides maintaining moods, bright light on an elderly person can improve sleep patterns and increase production of the serotonin hormone. This hormone is associated with a person’s ability to control stress.

This effect is revealed in a research by the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The experimental study involved 89 elderly people over 60 years old, who were diagnosed with depression.

The participants were divided into 2 groups and got a different treatment. One group got a bright blue light therapy for 1 hour before dawn, while the other group received pda dim red light therapy at the same time.

The development of the condition of the participants was observed after 3 weeks of getting therapy. Symptoms of depression in the group that received bright light reduced by 43 percent while the other group only decreased 36 percent.

After the therapy is stopped, the researchers again observed the development of the participants 3 weeks later. The difference is greater, symptoms of depression in the group receiving bright light improved 54 percent while the other group only 33 percent.

“Light therapy can be an alternative for patients who are not working with other medications, including antidepressants,” said one researcher, Ritsaert Leiverse, MD, according to WebMD.

Previously, the influence of light for mental health has also been studied at Ohio State University in 2009. Results of the research on adult rats then showed different results, bright light worsened conditions of rats that were depressed.