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Transcript of “To avoid pregnancy depression step into the light”
You don’t need me to tell you………..
Being pregnant IS a HORMONAL EXPERIENCE.
The list of hormones co-ordinating the assembly of baby is pretty long. The hormones grabbing centre stage, include
But, there is another hormone doing duty, in the shadows. Quite literally. He is petrified of the light, so he only ventures out, when the lights go down.
His name is melatonin.
What’s melatonin got to do with it ?
You’d be forgiven for thinking, melatonin is the hormone of sleep, melatonin has nothing to do with pregnancy.
Surprisingly melatonin has a lot more to do with pregnancy than you might think………
He is being produced by the placenta……
- where he helps to protect baby, from oxidative stress and
- he forms an integral part of the delivery team.
And in depressed about-2-be Moms, his daily comings and goings are a little out of sink. Especially during the long nights of winter.
This is what a group of researchers from the University of California discovered, when they systematically measured the melatonin levels of pregnant women.
A pre-birth vacation
The team invited pregnant Moms, living in the San Diego area, to check in, for a little vacation, prior to their due date. For some of the Moms, the vacation was a mid-summer break, for others, it was a mid-winter get away. Ultimately 31 “healthy” medication free, non-smoking Moms, signed up, for this mini-vacation at the University of California General Clinical Research Centre.
All the ladies were evaluated for mood issues, using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.
In the end,
- 12 women were found to be very happy campers, they scored below an 8 on the scale
- 19 women were found to be a little weepy, scoring above 14 on the scale
Next the ladies checked in for their mini-vacation….
In the dark
The team set about measuring melatonin and cortisol levels at 30 minute intervals, throughout the “vacation”, blood sampling began at 6 pm in the evening and ran until 11 am, the next day.
Ouch ! That’s a lot of blood samples.
To facilitate these multiple blood draws, the patients were hooked up to an intravenous catheter.
Now, measuring melatonin levels , when someone is asleep, is complicated. Remember, it just takes a smidgeon of light to impact blood melatonin levels.
- the average nurse, doesn’t come with the super power of being able to “see in the dark” and
- the average patient, doesn’t sleep soundly, while a stranger walks around their room
The team needed a very special room for this study.
The room they used, allowed them to tightly control the lighting and to collect the blood samples, through a port hole in the wall.
It was a very long night….
The first thing the team noticed…………depression scores were aligned with the time of the year. Moms were more depressed when the nights were long i.e. during winter. This was not a BIG SURPRISE – the sunshine vitamin moonlights as a comedian.
The other significant finding, when the nights were long….
Melatonin did not arrive on cue, in the group of depressed about-2-be Moms.
His timing was impeccable in the HAPPY CAMPERS.
Ironically, in the depressed Moms, the old boy was not late, but early. But, despite arriving early, his arrival was muted. The peak melatonin levels were lower than normal.
Allergic to winter ?
Melatonin’s comings and goings are set by light exposure. The official term for this is entrainment.
This research suggests, in about-2-be Moms, feeling especially weepy in winter – the problem might boil down to, they just haven’t adjusted to the seasonal changes in light levels.
Maybe the problem is genetic ?
Maybe it’s behavioural. They’ve headed indoors to escape the cold, so they’re just not catching enough sun/light early in the day.
Probably it’s a little of both.
Behaviours can be changed…………
Don’t blame “THE HORMONES”
What makes melatonin rather special, is because of his aversion to light, he is one of the few hormones, you can “CONTROL”, directly.
This marks a nice change, since most of the other pregnancy hormones are CONTROLING YOU.
Which translated means……….. they’re running the show and you’re along for the ride.
If you’re a little weepy, take back control ………..
Numerous studies have shown, exposure to bright light, can fight off those blues……..
Ideally, you want “no” light at night and LOTS of bright light, early in the morning.
If the sun is not up to the task, adjust your clock by switching on a SERIOUSLY bright electric light, for an hour or so, 10 minutes after you wake up.
Experiencing too much stress during pregnancy is risky, for both Mom and baby, spending time on a yoga mat is one way to bring a little stress relief.
The “love” of things NATURAL, is hardwired into the human brain. Young and old, rich and poor benefit from green medicine. So do babes in the womb.
Exercise really is an anti-depressant, because fit muscles, mop up kynrenine, so your brain ends up with less KYNA and KYNA, is kind of STRESSFUL
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