hand help cancer depression therapy treatment

If you are a cancer survivor suffering with depression, get help! The best treatment is psychotherapy combined with bright light stimulation (phototherapy). Psychotherapy alone is better than bright light. And bright light therapy is efficient as well, although less, the study from 2018 found.

Scientists split a sixty depressed breast cancer survivors in three groups. The first group received cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), second one bright light therapy and the third no treatment at all. As expected, those treated with CBT were doing better than the others, and those receiving phototherapy were doing better than those on waiting list.

“Although replication with larger samples is needed, these results confirm the efficacy of CT for depression in the context of breast cancer and suggest that BLT could be of some utility when CT is not available or desired,” the authors conclude. Knowing from other studies that CBT works better in depression together with bright light, it only makes sense to use both.

Take-away message:

Bright light therapy is efficient in treatment of depression in cancer survivors, albeit not as efficient as psychotherapy. To combine both effects, use both, psychotherapy and phototherapy!

  • Bright light therapy helps with depressions and fatigue. The effects of intense light influence the inner clock in the brain, which adjusts the levels of neurotransmitters and hormones in our brain and body. You can read more about the effects on depression, sleep problems, fatigue or on the brain in general.
  • Psychotherapy is the most efficient treatment for depression and fatigue we have. You explain it more here. To find a good licenced practitioner, check the website of your local or national association of psychotherapists. And in case of any obstacles, you can try online psychotherapy. It is not known whether it is as effective as traditional, offline sessions but it is known that it helps, too. Most likely it is slightly less efficient, but the difference tends to be small, as we describe in this article.