Cognitive Behavior Therapy Versus Light Therapy in the Treatment of SAD

NewStudy-Graphic-72x72_edited-3 According to a study published in the September issue of Behavior Therapy, researchers at the University of Vermont demonstrated that cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) was more effective than light therapy (LT) in the long-term treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Rohan and colleagues first randomized 69 participants into one of four groups: a light therapy treatment, a cognitive behavior therapy treatment, a combination of LT and CBT treatments, and a waist-list control. They then surveyed participants one year later. The results of that survey indicate that the CBT group (7.0%) and combination group (5.5%) had significantly less recurrence of winter depression during the following season, than the light therapy group (36.7%). These results persisted even after adjustments for ongoing treatment with light therapy, medication, and psychotherapy were made. A $2 million, 5-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will advance the next phase of this study, which is already underway.


Rohan, K.J., Roecklein, K.A., Lacy, T.J., Vacek, P.M. (2009) Winter depression one year after cognitive-behavioral therapy, light therapy, or combination treatment. Behavior Therapy, 40, 225-238.

1 reply
  1. Iain Mars
    Iain Mars says:

    I’ve personally had better results with light therapy than cognitive behavioural therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder. I have tried CBT for depression and this seemed to work extremely well but for SAD I was better with the lights.

    I also recommend regular exercise, natural sunlight and increasing your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables to get with Seasonal Affective Disorder.


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