Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Depression Health Center

Font Size

Bright Light Therapy Relieves Depression

Therapy Looks Promising for Depression During Pregnancy
WebMD Health News

April 5, 2004 -- Bright light therapy may relieve depression during pregnancy, possibly as well as antidepressants would.

Depression during pregnancy is a difficult problem since women are discouraged from taking antidepressants. Yet untreated depression during pregnancy can compromise her unborn baby's health, increasing risk of preeclampsia, lower birth weight, premature birth, and childhood behavioral problems, explains lead researcher C. Neill Epperson, MD, a psychiatrist with Yale School of Medicine.

Her study appears in this month's Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

These mothers are at very high risk of postpartum depression, which further puts her child at risk for brain development problems, depression, and substance abuse. And while most antidepressants do not cause major birth defects, they may adversely affect the newborn's growth and development.

Bright light therapy has shown promise as an effective treatment for depression, writes Epperson.

It involves sitting in front of a specially designed light box that provides either a bright or dim light for 60 minutes within 10 minutes of waking up.

In her study, 10 pregnant women, all diagnosed with depression, were assigned to get either five weeks of bright light therapy or were exposed to dim room light. The women underwent a standard interview to measure symptoms of depression and were given a score.

Researchers found a just small difference in the women's depression scores after five weeks. However, after 10 weeks of light therapy, they saw a significantly beneficial effect.

Depression scores were reduced in the women who were exposed to bright light therapy compared with women exposed to dim lights.

The encouraging finding "underscores the need for a full-scale clinical trial to determine whether light therapy can be added as a treatment" for depression during pregnancy, Epperson writes.

SOURCE: Epperson, C. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, March 2004; vol 65: pp 421-425.

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
jk rowling
Famous people who've struggled with persistent sadness.
depressed man sitting on hallway floor
Learn the truth about this serious illness.
Sad woman looking out of the window
Tips to stay the treatment course.
unhappy teen boy
Health Check
jk rowling
Pills with smiley faces
Teen girl huddled outside house
Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
antidepressants slideshow
pill bottle
Winding path