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Table 1 Published studies on the efficacy of bright light therapy in perinatal depression. Adapted from Crowley et Youngstedt [26]

From: Chronobiology, sleep-related risk factors and light therapy in perinatal depression: the “Life-ON” project

Study Subjects (n), gestational week (w) Design, patients vs. controls (n), duration (w) Bright light treatment Outcomes Adverse effects
Antenatal depression
Oren et al. 2002 [23] n = 16 OL 10,000 lux, 60 min morning (10 min after awakening) SIGH-SAD decreased by 49 % after 3 w, by 59 % after 5 w 2 patients experienced nausea
23 ± 7 w 3–5 w
Epperson 2004 [22] n = 10 R PC PG 7,000 lux vs. 500 lux, 60 min morning (10 min after awakening) no difference vs. placebo, SIGH-SAD improved in both groups by 45 % Irritable hypomania in one subject resolved after reduction of light exposure
20 ± 8 w 5 vs. 5
5 w
Wirz-Justice et al. 2011 [25] n = 26 R PC DB PG 7,000 lux vs. 70 lux red light, 60 min morning (10 min after awakening) significant greater improvement with active treatment (SIGH-HADS 58 % vs. 41 %, HDRS 64 % vs. 38 %) No clinically meaningful side effects
~25 w 16 vs. 10
5 w
Postpartum depression
Corral 2000 [21] n = 2 OL 10,000 lux 30 min morning (7:00–9:30) HDRS decreased by 38 and 43 % no adverse side effects
4 w
Corral 2007 [24] n = 15 R PC PG 10,000 lux vs. 600 lux red light, 30 min morning (7:00–9:00) no difference vs. placebo, SIGH-SAD improved in both groups by 49 % no adverse side effects
10 vs. 5
5 w
  1. Legend: OL open-label, R randomized, PC placebo-controlled, PG parallel group, DB double-blind