While it is known that many people with SAD respond to light therapy, few studies have examined the effectiveness of other therapies. In the current study, Kelly Rohan, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Vermont, and colleagues assigned 177 adults with an episode of major depression recurrent with a seasonal pattern to receive six weeks of CBT (two 90 minute sessions per week) or light therapy (30 minute session each morning). Depression severity was measured throughout the study by two different methods: the Structured Interview Guide for the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression–SAD Version (SIGH-SAD) and Beck Depression Inventory–Second Edition (BDI-II).
The researchers found that both treatments produced a significant and comparable response, with about half of the patients in each treatment arm reaching criteria for remission.
"These findings suggest that CBT-SAD and light therapy are comparably effective treatment modalities for targeting acute SAD," the study authors write. "Accordingly, CBT-SAD should be disseminated into practice and considered as a viable alternative to light therapy in treatment decision making."
To read about how CBT can be effective in the treatment of childhood anxiety disorder, see the Psychiatric News article, “CBT for Child Anxiety May Confer Long-Term Protection From Suicidality.”
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