12 Mar 2016

New therapy sheds light on post-cancer depression

Light can be used as a novel treatment to reduce symptoms and normalize circadian rhythms in cancer survivors, a new study suggests.




 The researchers randomly assigned 54 cancer survivors in a bright white light or a group of red light. Participants were provided with a light box and asked to use it for 30 minutes every morning for four weeks. Was measured depressive symptoms and circadian activity rhythms before, during and three months after the end of light exposure to determine the effectiveness of light therapy.

 Most patients face some degree of depression, anxiety and fear when cancer becomes part of their lives. According to the American Cancer Society, 1/4 of people with cancer suffer from clinical depression. (Shutterstock) "Depressive symptoms are common in even years for cancer survivors after treatment is over," said Heiddis Valdimarsdóttir of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the United States. "This interferes with the overall quality of life and puts the survivors at risk for poor outcomes, including death, Valdimarsdóttir said.


 Patients exposed to bright light experienced improvement in depressive symptoms, while those exposed to red light did not change in symptoms. "Our results suggest light therapy, therapy rather noninvasive, can provide an innovative way to reduce depression among cancer survivors," said William Redd of Icahn School of Medicine.


Most patients face some degree of depression, anxiety and fear when cancer becomes part of their lives. According to the American Cancer Society, 1/4 of people with cancer suffer from clinical depression. "The good news is that depression can be treated and that light therapy is a new and potentially effective treatment option," said Valdimarsdóttir. The results were presented at the American Psychosomatic Society.