An open trial of morning light therapy for treatment of antepartum depression

Am J Psychiatry. 2002 Apr;159(4):666-9. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.159.4.666.


Objective: About 5% of pregnant women meet criteria for major depression. No pharmacotherapy is specifically approved for antepartum depression; novel treatment approaches may be welcome. The authors explored the use of morning bright light therapy for antepartum depression.

Method: An open trial of bright light therapy in an A-B-A design was conducted for 3-5 weeks in 16 pregnant patients with major depression. The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, Seasonal Affective Disorders Version, was administered to assess changes in mood. A follow-up questionnaire was used to assess outcome after delivery.

Results: After 3 weeks of treatment, mean depression ratings improved by 49%. Benefits were seen through 5 weeks of treatment. There was no evidence of adverse effects of light therapy on pregnancy.

Conclusions: These data provide evidence that morning light therapy has an antidepressant effect during pregnancy. A randomized controlled trial is warranted to test this alternative to medication.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Personality Inventory
  • Phototherapy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder / diagnosis
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome