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 effect 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 the 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. 

Read more about the benefit of t-PBM and learn about brain health on our Blog.

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


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

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