While bright-light therapy has been effective for those battling seasonal affective disorder, recent research shows that it also may help adults over age 60 suffering from nonseasonal major depression.
In fact, daily “light box” sessions administered over three weeks were more effective than antidepressant drugs, a small clinical trial found.
The researchers believe the light boosts brain chemicals such as serotonin that play a role in moods, as well as increases melatonin, which aids sleep, and lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
However, seniors with diseases that make them sensitive to intense light, such as diabetic retinopathy, should seek medical consultation for light therapy and shouldn’t self-treat.
Experts say many people can improve their mood by getting five to 10 minutes a day of direct sunlight on their skin without sunscreen. Be careful not to stay out longer without protection.