The Best Use of Light Therapy for Postpartum Depression

by | Mar 9, 2021

When a baby is born, it can trigger a lot of emotions in the parents, especially the new mother. The spectrum of emotions is huge during this postpartum time period.

A new mom may go from feeling joy and excitement to anxiety and fear. Emotions are ever-changing, but childbirth can affect mothers with some unexpected and lasting emotions too.

Postpartum depression is a common health issue that new moms can experience. If you have just given birth to a baby and are going through a depression state, you should know that it is something you should be serious about.

There are many options for treatment including medication, speaking to a healthcare provider, and light therapy for postpartum depression.

What are Typical Postpartum Emotions?

The changing hormones in a woman’s body are known to cause some emotional fluctuations after a baby is delivered. These typical postpartum experiences are called the ‘baby blues’.

It is typical to experience situations like mood swings, difficulty in sleeping, anxiety, and crying spells in the first few weeks after bringing home a new baby. These situations can typically arise after two or three days of childbirth and then last for up to around two weeks.

Having a new baby can cause stress to any new mom with the change in sleep pattens and learning how to care for a newborn, but she should still be able to use proper coping strategies to combat these changes.

However, there are more severe problems often suffered by new mothers, such as a long-lasting depression, known as postpartum depression. Also on rare occasions, an extreme mood disorder known as ‘ postpartum psychosis’ can occur in mothers that have just given birth.

Related Post: My Battle with Postpartum Depression and the 4 Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

What is Postpartum Depression?

Some women go through different physical, behavioral, and emotional changes after childbirth, and that creates a complexity in them, which is known as Postpartum Depression. This form of major depression can start after some days of childbirth.

Postpartum depression is connected with the social, chemical, and psychological changes a woman has to go through while having a baby. New mothers face a range of emotional and physical changes during this term. 

All the chemical changes cause a quick drop in hormones after child delivery. It is quite unclear what the relationship is between this depression and the hormone drop.

We do know that the female reproductive hormones, estrogen, and progesterone get increased tenfold during the pregnancy period, and their levels drop rapidly after delivery. Along with these chemical changes, having a baby can cause different psychological and social changes, and all of these form a risk of severe depression.

Postpartum depression can be treated in many ways, including medications, light therapy, or counseling.

Related Post: The Ugly Side of Postpartum: Depression and Anxiety

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression is not something that should be taken lightly. When someone is going through postpartum depression, she will show certain signs or symptoms. These symptoms are intense and last for a long period too.

They can cause problems in handling different daily activities and taking care of the new baby. The father or partner has to step up during that time in taking some pressure off the new mom, but she should see a doctor and be treated if she’s going through these below-mentioned symptoms for a long time:

  • Severe Mood Swings or Depressed Mood
  • Facing difficulty in bonding with the baby
  • Withdrawing from closed ones
  • Excessive Crying
  • Eating much more than usual time or not eating due to loss of appetite
  • Sleeping too much or not sleeping at all due to insomnia
  • Intense anger or irritability
  • Panic attacks or severe anxiety
  • Self-harming thoughts or thoughts of harming the baby
  • Restlessness and Hopelessness
  • Fear of not being a good mother
  • Having feelings of guilt, shame, worthlessness, or inadequacy 
  • Finally, having thoughts of suicide

If a woman is going through some of these symptoms, they must be provided with proper help and care. Otherwise, things can get much worse with time.

Light Therapy for Postpartum Depression

Light therapy has been  a treatment for postpartum depression to help manage symptoms, emotions, and physical factors effecting new moms

Postpartum depression has to be taken seriously and you should take measures to treat it properly. There are many kinds of treatments for postpartum depression, you can go for expert help and their suggested medications or you can go for counseling.

Currently, the treatment which has been proven as a really effective one for depression is light therapy. Light therapy has done wonders for different types of depression, and postpartum depression is no different.

Light therapy has recently been started as a treatment for postpartum depression, and according to specialists, it is going to be a revolutionary treatment for that. Bright light therapy has already been a proven treatment for seasonal affective disorder and similar depressive syndromes, especially syndromes that have a high connection with hormonal reactions.

Even though hormones are just a part of postpartum depression, it is believed that light therapy can effectively help a person that is going through this depression.

Light therapy has been  a treatment for postpartum depression to help manage symptoms, emotions, and physical factors effecting new moms

Specifically, red light therapy is the most effective one regarding depressions. As postpartum depression is also a form of depression, you can go for light therapy as a solution for it. 

How Red Light Therapy Works

For starters, you have to expose your body daily for a certain time to the lightbox that radiates red light of around 10,000 lux.

Red light therapy can trigger specific hormones in your body that can help you deal with depression. Red light therapy keeps the hormones that cause depression in check too.

If you take light therapy for a certain time on a regular basis, light therapy will generate several chemical reactions in your body and create a balance in your hormones. Red light therapy for postpartum depression will help the hormonal balance of your body and release serotonin, the hormone that helps to deal with sadness and other similar emotions.

Especially, light therapy regulates the generation of melatonin by creating stimulations in our retinas.

As our retinas have connections with the hypothalamus, a part of the brain which is responsible for the regulation of melatonin. Melatonin is a really important hormone that regulates our sleeping and some other habits. 

People with depression often have too much melatonin in their systems, and it makes them feel all weak, unsteady, and full of unstable thoughts which leads to further depression. Also, it drains all the energy of people and makes it harder to find any energy to do something nice for themselves.

Melatonin regulation is controlled by an adequate amount of light, sunlight to be precise. But you can make it work with light therapy too.

As light therapy mimics sunlight, by taking light therapy you can help regulate melatonin properly in your body and help yourself to get rid of depression as a result.

The most compelling part is that red light therapy doesn’t have any side effects and it is completely safe for postpartum depression and even pregnant women too. Taking light therapy for a period can improve your mood and it can be a way to get out of your depression.

Even if it doesn’t cure it completely, you will have positive changes.

Final Words

Light therapy for postpartum depression is a revolutionary method of dealing with these fluctuations in emotions. Even though postpartum depression is a complex one, light therapy can really help you to deal with it.

So, if you face postpartum depression, you can resort to light therapy without any hesitation.

Hi I’m Marissa!

A mom of two little ones, here to provide some relatable experiences, tips, and tricks to the joys and challenges of pregnancy and childbirth through raising babies and toddlers.  Read more about me here.