New Moms

Depressed and Pregnant? Try Light Therapy

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You waited a long time to become pregnant. Maybe you needed medical intervention, something as simple as acupuncture or as invasive as IVF to get it going. Finally, you are pregnant. And you are depressed.

It happens to about 10% of all women, and for those concerned about having a successful full term pregnancy, depression can be physically harmful and emotionally paralyzing. This is particularly true when you realize there are no medications you can take because of side effects and potential harm to your unborn baby. Still, untreated depression can lead to complications in pregnancy so you have to do something.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry suggests that light therapy used to help people with seasonal affective disorder may also help with non-seasonal varieties of depression.

Researchers at the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland asked a small group of pregnant women to sit under a bright fluorescent light every day for one hour within a few minutes of waking. The exercise lasted for five weeks. By the end of the study, 50% of the women using the light (there was also a placebo and a decoy group) reported improvement and most of those claimed to be no longer depressed at all. Those numbers seem to indicate that light is just as effective as antidepressant drugs.

Best of all, light therapy has no side effects. The only setback is motivation, and when you are depressed, getting motivated to treat depression can be difficult.

Source: Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Reuters