Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the third leading cause of global disability [1], yet not everyone diagnosed with the condition seek treatment. Roughly 43% of primary care patients who experience a 6-month anxiety or depressive disorder diagnosis do not receive treatment, with most preferring self-management [2]. Contributing factors deterring patients to seek treatment include side effects associated with antidepressant medications and the need for frequent psychotherapy sessions with specialized professionals. Device-based interventions, such as electroconvulsive therapy, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and vagus nerve stimulation are approved as third- or fourth-line treatments for medication-resistant depression. 

Transcranial photobiomodulation (t-PBM), which is comprised of delivering near-infrared (NIR) light through the skull to the brain, has emerged as a potential antidepressant treatment in both animal models and human studies.

This paper reports the results from the Elated-2 Pilot Trial, a single-site, randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled study on the effect of t-PBM in MDD patients. The study is comprised of 21 adult MDD patients age 18 to 65, who underwent twice weekly t-BPM sessions for 8 weeks. The study finds subjects receiving t-PBM with NIR light showed greater improvement than the sham group that did not receive any light therapy. Furthermore, t-PBM with NIR light demonstrated antidepressant properties with a medium to large effect size in patients with MDD. 

[1] Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
[2] LiteCure LLC, Newark, Delaware.

Cassano, P. et al. (2018). Transcranial Photobiomodulation for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder. The ELATED-2 Pilot Trial. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery,  XX, XX.

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