Bright light therapy may be alternative to antidepressants

lisa_wurth

January 20, 2011

A new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry has found that an hour a day of bright light therapy may help relieve depression in older adults, according to WebMD.com.

While the treatment is traditionally used for those with seasonal affective disorder, researchers found that having a senior work or sit beside a box that emits a pale, blue light can reduce symptoms of depression by 54 percent.

Researchers said that these improvements are remarkably similar to the effects of antidepressants.

"Bright light treatment may provide a viable alternative for patients who refuse, resist, or do not tolerate antidepressant treatment," wrote researcher Ritsaert Leiverse, MD, according to the news source.

Isolation during the golden years can be a major cause of depression and can be potentially dangerous. Independent seniors may want to consider investing in a personal emergency response system, which can be used to send a medical alert to neighbors or doctors.

Experts suggest that older adults who are living alone should try to stay socially active by going to senior centers, joining a fitness club or just sitting down to talk. AARP.org reports that many older men are gathering in diners and other hotspots across the country just to share conversation.