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February 1989

Light Therapy and the Seasonal Affective Disorder-Reply

Author Affiliations

Norman E. Rosenthal, MD National Institutes of Health 9000 Rockville Pike Bethesda, MD 20205

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1989;46(2):194-195. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1989.01810020096020

In Reply.—  Dr Mueller raises several points: 1. Dr Mueller correctly notes that his name was omitted from a citation in our letter. He was in fact a coauthor in our first systematic study of phototherapy, and his initial pilot study was described in the "Methods" section of our report.While current interest in seasonal affective disorder and its treatment may appear novel to all of us, these observations are really not totally new. Seasonal affective disorder was described over 2000 years ago by Hippocrates1 (460-370 bc) and subsequently by many others. For example, Posidonius2 (fourth century AD) observed that mania is "an intermittent disease which proceeds through a periodical circuit... it repeats itself once a year or more often... melancholy occurs in autumn, whereas mania in summer."Even phototherapy of depression is not new. Greco-Roman physicians of the "Solidist" school treated depression and lethargy with light. Aretaeus3

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