Motherhood can be a magical time. Like other life transitions, it can also be fraught with challenges. A 2006 Danish study discovered that new mothers are at an increased risk for mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder in the first 3 months following the birth of their first child. Because of this—and the fact that PPD is so prevalent—new mothers may want to seek psychotherapy in the months following childbirth to help with the transition into motherhood.
In addition to psychotherapy, nutrition and other complementary and alternative therapies can be helpful in relieving depressive symptoms and improving overall well-being.


Aromatherapy-massage is an effective intervention for postpartum mothers to improve physical and mental status and to facilitate mother-infant interaction.

A study at the University of Tokyo took 36 healthy postpartum mothers, and gave half aromatherapy-massage, while the other half received standard postpartum care. Results indicated that the aromatherapy-massage group had significantly decreased depression and anxiety scores when measured by three psychological tests. It was concluded that aromatherapy-massage was an effective intervention for depression in postpartum mothers.

Hypertension is a common problem in many pregnant women that often continues postpartum. Part of the reason aromatherapy-massage helps postpartum mothers is likely due to its positive impact on blood pressure.

Light Therapy

In studies demonstrating the usefulness of bright light therapy, investigators discovered an association between seasonal depression and PPD. Low levels of light exposure postpartum may trigger PPD in some women.

Research has shown that light therapy can have an antidepressant effect in new mothers with PPD. A Yale University study determined that light therapy was an effective alternative to antidepressants for women with PPD. The researchers noted that because the women were nursing, light therapy offered a safe, non-pharmacological approach.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a useful intervention that has been utilized by pregnant women and new mothers for centuries. Massage is a particularly effective method for helping low-back back during pregnancy. Ice massage, which involves using ice on the meridian points used in acupuncture, can reduce pain during labor.

In one study, the benefits of massage were examined with 32 depressed mothers. The participants, who had recently given birth, were randomly assigned to one of two intervention groups; 1) group one received 10 sessions of massage therapy, and 2) group two received 10 sessions of relaxation therapy. The study’s investigators measured depression and anxiety levels, as well as cortisol levels. The new mothers who received massage had significantly lower cortisol levels after sessions. Moreover, the massage group had a substantial decrease in depression. It was concluded that massage is a viable means of reducing the symptoms of PPD in new mothers.

Massage can also help reduce PPD by enhancing the new mother's relationship with her infant. During a study at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, new mothers with PPD who took infant massage classes had an improvement in mood as well as more rewarding mother-infant interactions.

In conclusion, women suffering from PPD may benefit from several interventions other than medications and psychotherapy. Many alternative treatments have the advantages of being inexpensive, accessible, and generally safe and well-tolerated, thereby presenting attractive options to traditional treatments.

To learn more about how alternative therapies can help all types of depression, visit

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Randi Fredricks, Ph.D. is the author of Healing and Wholeness: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Mental Health and Fasting: An Exceptional Human Experience. She has a Ph.D. in Psychology, a Doctorate in Naturopathy and accreditations as a Nutritionist, Herbalist, Hypnotherapist, and Registered Addiction Specialist. She provides counseling and psychotherapy in San Jose, California. To learn about her private practice, visit her website