Light therapy is helpful in controlling the depression of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Treatment consists of exposure to light of a high intensity and/or specific spectra for an hour per day from a light box placed on the floor or on a table. The light intensity is usually 10,000 lux which is similar to the light of a sunny day. The opposite may be used, as well, which is the use of a dawn simulator for those patients who have an overdose of light exposure and require more sleep with less light. Most persons will see an effect within three to four weeks. Side effects include headaches, eye-strain, irritability, and insomnia. A week or more in a sunny climate may improve SAD.
Depression usually is treated with antidepressants and/or psychosocial therapy. When used together correctly, therapy and antidepressants are a powerful treatment plan for the depressed patient.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO inhibitors), such as tranylcypromine (Parnate) and phenelzine (Nardil), block the action of monoamine oxidase (MAO), an enzyme in the central nervous system. Patients taking MAOIs must avoid foods high in tyramine (found in aged cheeses and meats) to avoid potentially serious hypertensive side effects.
Heterocyclics include bupropion (Wellbutrin) and trazodone (Desyrel). Bupropion is prescribed to patients with a seizure disorder. Side effects include agitation, anxiety, confusion, tremor, dry mouth, fast or irregular heartbeat, headache, low blood pressure, and insomnia. Because trazodone has a sedative effect, it is useful in treating depressed patients with insomnia. Other possible side effects of trazodone include dry mouth, gastrointestinal distress, dizziness, and headache. In 2003, Well-butrin's manufacturer released a once-daily version of the drug that offered low risk of sexual side effects or weight gain.
Belinda Rowland, Teresa G. Odle, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,