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

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. reports that many older men are gathering in diners and other hotspots across the country just to share conversation.