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Psychiatry Journal
Volume 2017, Article ID 6867957, 11 pages
Clinical Study

Patients’ Experience of Winter Depression and Light Room Treatment

1Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
2Center for Clinical Research Dalarna (CKF), Falun, Sweden
3Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, St. Göran, Stockholm, Sweden

Correspondence should be addressed to Cecilia Rastad; es.anraladtl@datsar.ailicec

Received 30 August 2016; Accepted 4 December 2016; Published 15 February 2017

Academic Editor: Ulrich Schweiger

Copyright © 2017 Cecilia Rastad et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. There is a need for more knowledge on the effects of light room treatment in patients with seasonal affective disorder and to explore patients’ subjective experience of the disease and the treatment. Methods. This was a descriptive and explorative study applying qualitative content analysis. A purposeful sample of 18 psychiatric outpatients with a major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern and a pretreatment score ≥12 on the 9-item Montgomery-Åsberg Depression self-rating scale was included (10 women and 8 men, aged 24–65 years). All patients had completed light room treatment (≥7/10 consecutive weekdays). Data was collected two weeks after treatment using a semistructured interview guide. Results. Patients described a clear seasonal pattern and a profound struggle to adapt to seasonal changes during the winter, including deterioration in sleep, daily rhythms, energy level, mood, activity, and cognitive functioning. Everyday life was affected with reduced work capacity, social withdrawal, and disturbed relations with family and friends. The light room treatment resulted in a radical and rapid improvement in all the major symptoms with only mild and transient side effects. Discussion. The results indicate that light room treatment is essential for some patients’ ability to cope with seasonal affective disorder.