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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1997 Aug;96(2):117-21.

Spectral properties of phototherapy for seasonal affective disorder: a meta-analysis.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.


The general therapeutic effect of light on seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has been widely acknowledged. However, the antidepressant effect of light does not seem to be the same for different spectra of light. In this study, the authors attempted to study the spectral properties of phototherapy for SAD using a meta-analytical procedure. The findings suggested that light of short to medium wavelengths (blue/green/yellow) seem to be essential for the therapeutic effect of light on SAD. Red wavelengths were relatively ineffective. It was then postulated that SAD may be predisposed and/or precipitated by the inefficiency of the S and M cones in the retina. Furthermore, ultraviolet (UV) waves did not seem to be essential for SAD symptom alleviation by artificial light. Therefore, these potentially harmful UV waves should be blocked in any clinical application of phototherapy for SAD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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