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Biol Psychiatry. 1997 Sep 15;42(6):509-13.

Suppression of melatonin secretion by bright light in seasonal affective disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Helsinki, Finland.


Eleven patients with winter seasonal affective disorder and 10 healthy controls were exposed to light of 3300 lux for 5 min and for 1 hour respectively on consecutive evenings at 22:00 hours during winter and summer. In the winter, the measurements were undertaken both before and after the treatment with bright light for 2 weeks. In the summer, there was no treatment. Melatonin concentration in saliva and subjective sleepiness were measured at 22:00 and 23:00 hours on each test. There was no significant difference in the suppression of melatonin in response to the light tests between the patients and the controls. Exposure to light reduced the level of subjective sleepiness more among the patients compared to the control subjects. This reduction was not associated with the change in melatonin secretion nor the improvement in depressive symptoms.

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