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Depressed Moms-to-be Brighten Up

Post-partum depression and even depression during pregnancy are common, but treating the condition can be especially challenging. Antidepressants are rarely recommended for pregnant or breast feeding women. So what's a woman to do for help?

Motherhood was always in the plans for Laura Stinson. "I always knew I wanted to have four. Then, I had two and said, 'That was enough,'" Laura says.

"Then we were blessed with two extras."

Laura can say that today, but when she was pregnant with Sarah, depression set in. She says: "I started feeling overwhelmed. Simple things like paying the bills, I couldn't do it." Knowing antidepressants pose risks to unborn babies, Laura looked for something different.

She found it with two simple clicks of a light switch.

Psychiatrist Katherine L. Wisner, M.D., is involved in a formal study on the power of light therapy. She says, "I've become absolutely excited about the possibility of showing that it's an effective treatment for depression in pregnancy and that we might spare many women medication treatments during pregnancy."

While doctors don't understand why the light therapy works, Dr. Wisner, of University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, says all that matters is that it does. "The number of patients who respond, and the rate at which they respond, is similar to drug studies," she tells Ivanhoe.

Forty-five minutes every morning was all it took for Laura's mood to turn around, and it took less than three weeks.

Even now when she uses it Laura notices a difference. "I find that I do have a little extra spring in my step," she says. And that's important to keep up with the activity of her active crew.

These are special lights, and just any light will not have the same effect. The therapy should be used within 10 minutes of waking up in the morning. Dr. Wisner warns that although the side effects are few and rare, the treatment can be harmful to people with severe depression, so it's not recommended without the guidance of a doctor.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Women's Behavioral Healthcare

Light for Depression in Pregnancy Study

Categories: Pregnancy,

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New FeatureRelated Articles: The Many Faces of Postpartum Depression: The Medicine Mom, Depression: What Every Woman Should Know,

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