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Light therapy reduces depression overload in NHS

For people suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), light therapy is an effective, drug-free treatment.

Results of a three-year double-blind, controlled clinical trial show that light therapy is just as effective as the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac) in the treatment of SAD. The key advantage is that light therapy has a more rapid onset and fewer adverse side-effects and can be effective within a day or two.

With winter drawing in, the incidences of depression will rise still further. It is expected that up to 5% of people will suffer from SAD with diagnosed clinical depression. But up to 40% could present with less serious, but still debilitating, seasonal depression, often categorised as "winter blues".

Incidence of depression has risen to an estimated one in four people, and the latest Healthcare Commission review says that the NHS is failing to meet the demand because of overstretched resources. With a lack of specialist therapists and counsellors, many doctors are resorting to antidepressant medication, such as Prozac.

It is the ineffective suppression of melatonin on dark mornings and in low light environments that is the cause of seasonal depression.Research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that: "Treatment with The Litebook (LED light therapy device) is an effective treatment for SAD as assessed by both clinicians (SIGH-SAD, CGI) and patients (BDI). The short treatment time (30 minutes) and portability of the device may increase patient appeal and adherence over other treatment options, including chemical anti-depressants and other light therapy devices."

The Litebook is a personal LED light therapy device. The patented bright white LEDs produce light to achieve the maximum effective suppression of the sleep hormone melatonin in the shortest possible time. Many users can manage their symptoms with 15 minutes exposure each morning.

For more information and full details of clinical trials visit