Hypericum in the Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorders
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) represents a subgroup of major depression with a regular occurrence of symptoms in autumn/winter and full remission in spring/summer. Light therapy (LT) has become the standard treatment of this type of depression. Apart from this, pharmacotherapy with antidepressants also seems to provide an improvement of SAD symptoms. The aim of this controlled, single-blind study was to evaluate if hypericum, a plant extract, could be beneficial in treating SAD patients and whether the combination with LT would be additionally advantageous. Patients who fulfilled DSM-III-R criteria for major depression with seasonal pattern were randomized in a 4-week treatment study with 900 mg of hypericum per day combined with either bright (3000 lux, n = 10) or dim (< 300 lux, n = 10) light condition. Light therapy was applied for 2 hours daily. We found a significant (MANOVA, P < .001) reduction of the Hamilton Depression Scale score in both groups but no significant difference between the two groups. Our data suggest that pharmacologic treatment with hypericum may be an efficient therapy in patients with seasonal affective disorder.
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