Shorter days linked to higher risk of postnatal de­pres­sion

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Front Page -

NEW RE­SEARCH has found that the amount of day­light a woman is ex­posed to dur­ing late preg­nancy could in­flu­ence her risk of de­vel­op­ing postnatal de­pres­sion. Car­ried out by re­searchers at San José State Univer­sity and the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia San Fran­cisco and pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Be­hav­ioral Medicine, the new study looked at 293 women who were all first-time moth­ers. The re­searchers gath­ered data on the amount of day­light the women were ex­posed to dur­ing the fi­nal trimester of their preg­nancy, along with in­for­ma­tion about known risk fac­tors for post-par­tum de­pres­sion in­clud­ing a his­tory of de­pres­sion, age, so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus and how much she slept. The find­ings sug­gested that the num­ber of day­light hours a woman was ex­posed to dur­ing her fi­nal month of preg­nancy, as well as just af­ter birth, in­flu­enced her risk of de­vel­op­ing de­pres­sive symp­toms. Among women whose fi­nal trimester co­in­cided with late sum­mer to au­tumn, when days were short­en­ing, the risk of de­pres­sive symp­toms was high­est (35 per cent), with th­ese symp­toms also con­tin­u­ing to be more severe fol­low­ing the birth of their ba­bies. Women whose fi­nal trimester co­in­cided with sea­sons with longer day­light hours had the low­est risk of de­pres­sion, which was 26 per cent. The find­ings are also in line with what is al­ready known about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween re­duced ex­po­sure to nat­u­ral light and the risk of de­pres­sion in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion. Lead au­thor Deepika Goyal com­mented that the re­sults sug­gest that if the late third trimester and birth oc­cur when the days are shorter, us­ing light ther­apy may help to re­duce post-par­tum de­pres­sive symp­toms. In ad­di­tion, health ex­perts should be en­cour­ag­ing women to spend more time out­doors to help in­crease light ex­po­sure. “Women should be en­cour­aged to get fre­quent ex­po­sure to day­light through­out their preg­nan­cies to en­hance their vi­ta­min D lev­els and to sup­press the hor­mone mela­tonin,” ex­plains Goyal. “Daily walks dur­ing day­light hours may be more ef­fec­tive in im­prov­ing mood than walk­ing inside a shop­ping mall or us­ing a tread­mill in a gym. Like­wise, early morn­ing or late even­ing walks may be re­lax­ing but would be less ef­fec­tive in increasing vi­ta­min D ex­po­sure or sup­press­ing mela­tonin.” – Re­laxnews

Mak­ing the most of day­light hours could help re­duce a woman’s risk of postnatal de­pres­sion, ac­cord­ing to new re­search.

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