Clinical Trial: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for the Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

This study is currently recruiting patients.

Sponsored by: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Information provided by: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)


The purpose of this study is to assess the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), commonly called the "winter blues."

Condition Treatment or Intervention Phase
Seasonal Affective Disorder
 Behavior: Light Therapy
 Behavior: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
 Behavior: Light Therapy plus Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Phase I

MedlinePlus related topics:  Depression;   Seasonal Affective Disorder

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Treatment, Randomized, Single Blind, Placebo Control, Parallel Assignment, Efficacy Study

Official Title: Cognitive Behavioral Approaches to Seasonal Depression

Further Study Details: 

Expected Total Enrollment:  120

Study start: November 2002;  Expected completion: November 2004

SAD is a condition in which people experience depression as a result of seasonal variations in sunlight. Although light therapy is a common treatment for SAD, a large proportion of people with SAD are resistant to this treatment. CBT is effective for nonseasonal depressive disorders, but its use for SAD has not been thoroughly explored. This study will determine whether CBT, alone and combined with light therapy, is as effective as light therapy alone in reducing SAD symptoms.

Participants in this study will be randomly assigned to light therapy, CBT, a combination of light therapy and CBT, or a control group (no therapy) for 6 weeks. CBT will be conducted twice a week; light therapy will be conducted twice a day. Assessments will be made before, during, and after the study treatment. Depression scales, questionnaires, and behavioral tasks will be used to assess the depressive symptoms of participants. A 6-month and 1-year follow-up visit will also be conducted. During the follow-up visits, participants will be interviewed and will complete a questionnaire and a survey.


Ages Eligible for Study:  18 Years and above,  Genders Eligible for Study:  Both


Inclusion Criteria:

  • Diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • Willing and able to participate in the study procedures

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Major psychological diagnoses other than SAD
  • Current psychological or psychiatric treatment

Location and Contact Information

      Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), Bethesda,  Maryland,  20814-4799,  United States; Recruiting
Kelly J. Rohan, PhD  301-295-1482 
Massac I. Aisha, BA  301-295-3241 
Kelly J. Rohan, PhD,  Principal Investigator

More Information

Society for Light Therapy and Biological Rhythms [SLTBR]

Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy [AABT]

Study ID Numbers:  MH65946-01A1
Record last reviewed:  January 2004
Last Updated:  October 13, 2004
Record first received:  January 16, 2004 Identifier:  NCT00076245
Health Authority: United States: Federal Government processed this record on 2005-04-08

Cache Date: April 9, 2005