"People treated with only CBT-that's all they know," she says, "so I think they do it with gusto in the next year and reap the benefits."
Of the light therapy group, only four people used it on their own the following winter. Rohan considers this unsurprising given the commitment the treatment requires: 30 minutes sitting in front of a light box every day through the difficult season. Her data shows that long-term compliance is rare.
A $2 million, five-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health will advance the next phase of Rohan's research. In the Cadillac version of the trial, as she calls it, Rohan will follow a much larger sample, 160 people, over two consecutive winters. That study, in progress now, will compare only CBT and light therapy.
"The combination therapy may blow your socks off across six weeks of the initial winter," says Rohan, "but if it doesn't have good long-term outcomes, what is the point? This is a recurrent depression. It's going to come back every year in some form and I want to develop treatments that are going to have lasting effects."
If you are a SAD sufferer and would like to take part in UVM's Winter Blues Study, call 656-9890.