Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) casts a unique shadow over the pregnancy journey for some women, affecting their mental health and overall well-being. The challenge in diagnosing SAD in pregnant women lies in differentiating between normal pregnancy-related mood changes and clinically significant depressive symptoms.
Timely intervention, support and help-seeking can significantly reduce the burden of SAD on pregnant women. Fostering a supportive environment that prioritizes maternal mental health throughout the season is essential, ensuring a healthy and happy journey through pregnancy.
SAD, a form of seasonal depression, can significantly affect pregnant women, altering their emotional well-being and affecting their overall health. Pregnancy can pose a unique challenge with the cyclical nature of SAD. Understanding this intersection is crucial in providing adequate support and care for expectant mothers.
Dr. Swetha RV, MBBS, DNB(OBG), Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Apollo Cradle and Children’s Hospital, Rajajinagar, Bengaluru shares the impact of SAD on pregnant women.
Dr. Swetha RV shares that during pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations are normal, affecting neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin. When combined with the onset of SAD during the dark seasons, hormonal imbalances can increase mood swings, sleep patterns, and overall emotional stability, exacerbating symptoms of depression.
risk of complications
According to Dr. Swetha RV, research suggests that high stress levels due to SAD may contribute to an increased risk of experiencing increased symptoms such as severe feelings of sadness, fatigue and lethargy due to the overload of seasonal changes.
Effects on maternal and fetal health
Dr. Swetha RV shares that SAD can affect not only the mother but also the developing fetus. Feelings of sadness and lethargy can hinder a pregnant woman’s ability to engage in self-care practices and connect with her developing baby. Studies suggest a link between maternal depression or SAD and adverse outcomes such as preterm birth, low birth weight, challenges with initiation of breastfeeding, and developmental problems in children.
Dr. Swetha RV explains that while traditional treatments such as light therapy and antidepressants are effective, their use during pregnancy requires careful assessment of the potential risk to the fetus. Non-pharmacological interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness techniques and lifestyle changes often serve as the first line of treatment, aiming to relieve symptoms without endangering the unborn child.
Support and awareness
Dr. Swetha RV shares that encouraging open communication, providing resources and a supportive environment can significantly impact a pregnant woman’s ability to navigate SAD. Education of coping strategies tailored to pregnant women, including safe therapeutic interventions, dietary considerations, and mindfulness practices, can help manage the effects of SAD during pregnancy.