Depression During Pregnancy (Perinatal Depression)
A pregnant woman is understandably very aware of everything she puts in her body and the potential effect it may have on her unborn child. At the same time, it is common for pregnant women to experience depression. This may be a condition that existed before her pregnancy or one that began while she was pregnant. A very thorough exploration of the effects of untreated depression as well as antidepressant use in pregnant and breastfeeding women by Teri Pearlstein, MD at Brown University can be accessed here: Pearlstein.
Although Pearlstein makes only casual mention of Bright Light Therapy and other alternatives, the case for seeking these alternative options is well made.
The impact of the hormonal changes a woman's body goes through is a documented and quite common contributor to depression. Light Therapy has been found to be an effective tool to help lessen the depression without the introduction of chemicals into the woman's system. This article 'alternatives' provides a broad overview of alternatives to medication for pregnant women as well as links to specific studies on this subject.
Other articles more specific to studying the anti-depressant benefits of bright light therapy with pregnant women can be accessed through the following links: this one published in Oren, et al;Amer Jour of Psychiatry ; this article by Terman et al in 2004 Terman, et al; J of Clinical Psychology ; and this summary of a 2002 study that is located on the website biomedicine.org .
The time after a woman gives birth is a time of enormous changes for her. The upheaval of hormone levels often leads to postpartum depression. This can also be a time when a woman is particularly cautious about what substances enter her system, particularly if she is nursing her baby. Bright Light Therapy has been shown to be an effective tool for postpartum depression in this study [psychiatryonline.org] as well as numerous others. An added benefit of LT in this situation is the much quicker response most people get from light intervention versus medication; usually experiencing benefit in a matter of days rather than weeks.