Feasibility of Adherence to Light Therapy

  • End date
    Dec 31, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of British Columbia
Updated on 6 October 2021


In this feasibility study, we propose an important question: What factors will affect participant adherence to the daily use of light therapy for maintenance treatment of depression? To answer this question, we will conduct a pilot study of open-label treatment with light therapy in a small sample (n=10) of participants meeting eligibility criteria to determine what factors will challenge or enhance adherence to a standard light therapy protocol.


Guidelines recommend at least 6-9 months of maintenance treatment to prevent relapse once patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) are in symptom remission with antidepressant treatment. However, many patients decide to discontinue antidepressants because of side effects or personal preference for a non-pharmacological treatment. Hence, a priority question for patients is whether non-pharmacological treatments can be substituted for antidepressants for maintenance treatment.

Light therapy is a safe, evidence-based, non-pharmacological treatment for MDD and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) with fewer side effects than antidepressants. The safety and efficacy of light therapy suggest that it would also be effective for maintenance treatment and relapse prevention, but there are no studies addressing this question.

Before conducting a randomized controlled trial, we want to determine whether light therapy is feasible for patients in remission with antidepressants and whether patients will adhere to standard light therapy protocols. In this feasibility study, we will enroll patients with MDD in remission who wish to discontinue their antidepressant and substitute open-label light therapy to examine adherence outcomes.

Condition Major Depression in Remission
Treatment Light Therapy
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04944758
SponsorUniversity of British Columbia
Last Modified on6 October 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

[1] Outpatients 19 to 65 years of age
[2] DSM-5 criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD) past or recurrent episode as determined by the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview
[3] taking an antidepressant for no more than six months
[4] participant desire to discontinue antidepressant treatment because of adverse effects or other reasons
[5] total score 10 on the clinician-rated Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale [MADRS]
[6] Willing and able to complete self-report and online assessments including sufficient fluency in English

Exclusion Criteria

[1] Any psychiatric diagnosis other than MDD that is considered the primary diagnosis, including Bipolar I or Bipolar-II (lifetime)
[2] MDD with psychotic features (lifetime)
[3] significant personality disorder diagnosis [e.g., borderline, antisocial]
[4] High suicidal risk, defined by clinician judgment
[5] History of drug or alcohol abuse, with a severity of at least moderate or severe within 6 months before screening
[6] Significant neurological disorders, head trauma, or other unstable medical conditions
[7] regular use of psychotropic medication other than an antidepressant or benzodiazepines (e.g., antipsychotics, mood stabilizers)
[8] history of severe withdrawal effects with antidepressant discontinuation
[9] retinal disease or other eye condition preventing use of bright light therapy
[10] use of photosensitizing medication within 1 week of baseline visit
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