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Impact Of Seasonal Affective Disorder On Pregnant Women – Expert Explains | Health News


Dec 29, 2023


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression triggered by seasonal changes, can significantly impact pregnant women, altering their emotional well-being and potentially affecting their overall health. SAD casts a unique shadow on the journey of pregnancy for some women, influencing their mental health and overall well-being. Pregnancy coupled with the cyclical nature of SAD can create a unique set of challenges. 

The challenge of diagnosing SAD in pregnant women lies in distinguishing between typical pregnancy-related mood changes and clinically significant depressive symptoms. Timely intervention, support, and seeking help can significantly alleviate the burden of SAD on pregnant women. It’s imperative to cultivate a supportive environment that prioritizes maternal mental health throughout the seasons, ensuring a healthier and happier journey through pregnancy.

Dr Swetha R V, MBBS, DNB (OBG), Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital, Rajajinagar, Bengaluru, explains the impact of SAD on pregnant women. 

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Hormonal Influence

Dr Swetha explains during pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations are natural, impacting neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin. When combined with the onset of SAD during darker seasons, hormonal imbalances can exacerbate mood swings, sleep patterns, and overall emotional stability, intensifying depressive symptoms.

Risk Of Complications

Dr Swetha shares that research suggests elevated stress levels due to SAD may contribute to increased risks of experiencing exacerbated symptoms such as intensified feelings of sadness, fatigue, and lethargy due to the added burden of seasonal changes.

Impact On Maternal and Fetal Health

Dr Swetha explains SAD can potentially 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 child. Studies suggest a link between maternal depression or SAD and adverse outcomes such as preterm birth, low birth weight, challenges with breastfeeding initiation, and developmental issues in babies.

Treatment Considerations

Dr Swetha explains, that while traditional treatments like light therapy and antidepressants are effective, their use during pregnancy requires careful evaluation of potential risks to the fetus. Non-pharmacological interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness techniques, and lifestyle modifications often serve as the primary line of treatment, aiming to alleviate symptoms without endangering the unborn child.

Support and Awareness

Dr Swetha shares, that encouraging open communication, providing resources, and a supportive environment can significantly impact a pregnant woman’s ability to navigate SAD. Education on coping mechanisms tailored for pregnant women, including safe therapeutic interventions, dietary considerations, and mindfulness practices, can aid in managing SAD’s impact during pregnancy.


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