Shedding Light on Mommy Blues Light Therapy
and Postpartum Depression

By Melissa Gallagher

The joy of the holiday season has passed and we are settling into the darker, cooler Southern California winter. What do new moms experiencing symptoms of depression/span> do when coming down from the high of the holidays coupled with the lack of sunny days?

Many new mothers, especially those who choose to live a natural, organic and chemical-free lifestyle, are often challenged with the choices when seeking treatment for postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is classified as a major depressive disorder and is
characterized by a variety of mental and physical symptoms that produce significant distress and detrimental changes in life functions. Most new mothers experience depressive symptoms within the first four weeks after delivery; however, research has shown that women continue to remain at risk for mental disorders even several months after delivery.

Postpartum depression is a common mood disorder and found in at least 10-15% of all new moms. Famous mothers like Brooke Shields, are helping to illustrate the challenges and effects of this very serious disorder.

Symptoms of Pregnancy Depression & Postpartum Depression
Crying often
Anxiety Feeling worthless or guilty
Social withdrawal
Feeling sad and overwhelmed
Increased or decreased appetite
Experiencing headaches,
pains or stomach problems

Hormonal changes may trigger symptoms of postpartum depression. During pregnancy, women experience increased levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. In the first 24 hours after childbirth, hormone levels quickly return to normal. Researchers think the big change in hormone levels may be the root cause of postpartum depression. These changes are similar to the way smaller hormone changes can affect a woman's moods before she gets her period; changes commonly coined as PMS. Levels of thyroid hormones may also drop after giving birth. The thyroid, a small gland in the neck, helps regulate how the body uses and stores energy from food. Low levels of thyroid hormones can cause symptoms of depression. A simple blood test can tell if this condition is causing your symptoms. If so, your doctor can prescribe thyroid medicine or a natural treatment of liquid kelp or seaweed salad may help.

Many mothers, especially those breastfeeding their babies, choose not to take antidepressant drugs and thyroid medicine. The fear of chemical transference is great when breastfeeding and can often add a great level of stress to the mother.

There are other postpartum treatment options and most beneficial ‹ apart from diet ‹ is light therapy. There have been numerous studies that have utilized bright light, full-spectrum light therapy (10,000 lux).

Full Spectrum light lamps or "happy lamps" emit natural light similar to that from the sun minus the harmful UVA and UVB rays that are linked to skin cancer, advancing skin aging, skin spots and even potential damage to our eyes.

Full-spectrum light allows the body to produce Vitamin D naturally and its deficiency is now linked with increased risk of osteoporosis and breast cancer; both of which have higher incidences in the Northern parts of the U.S. Similarly Vitamin D is currently being studied as a potential natural  treatment for depression.

There are a number of natural and holistic remedies better suited for the new mother's body than conventional medicine and can provide a solution on how to beat postpartum depression. Herbal and homeopathic remedies can provide harmony in the body to better balance your moods and feelings without the side effects and potential for dependency associated with the synthetic drugs.

A very popular and effective approach is the use of aromatherapy. Essential oils of lemon, grapefruit and geranium are well known for their anti-depressant properties and may be introduced into the environment by means of oil diffusers, space sprays, in a bath oil or during massage.

It is natural for new moms to experience spikes of hormones that may cause a slight, moderate or even a severe case of depression. Light therapy may represent a natural and chemical-free treatment for postpartum depression, especially for women who choose to breastfeed their babies.

Melissa Gallagher is a naturopath and founder of Healing Being, LLC, offering a complete line of organic, homeopathic, naturopathic and alternative health and wellness products including prenatal DHA,Children's DHA and full-spectrum light therapy lamps. Please visit   for additional information or call (727) 954-8968.


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