Seasonal Affective Disorder During Pregnancy

Are you pregnant and feeling depressed during these long winter months? You could be experiencing winter depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is triggered by decreased sunlight. Pregnant women may be more susceptible to depression or seasonal affective disorder due to the hormonal fluctuations that occur during pregnancy.

Seasonal depression can increase your risk of pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia, preterm birth, and even low birth weight. If you are pregnant and feeling depressed, it’s important for you to get help.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Depression Symptoms

• Persistent sadness
• Anger
• Irritability most of the day
• Lack of interest in activities you usually enjoy
• Trouble concentrating
• Persistent fatigue
• Craving carbohydrate-heavy foods
• Feelings of hopelessness and/or having suicidal thoughts

Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatments

Several treatments are available for you to try on your own to combat SAD. Light therapy, which is exposing the body to a broad-spectrum ultraviolet light that mimics outdoor sunlight, is particularly effective. You do not need a prescription to obtain a therapeutic light box for light therapy, but be aware that light boxes are not regulated by the FDA, so talk to your doctor about how you are feeling and about trying this option before using this method. If you do use light therapy, it is important that you purchase a high-quality light box that emits a minimum of 10,000 lux, and stay within the manufacturer’s recommended distance from the light source. 

Other self-care measures that may alleviate SAD symptoms during pregnancy include spending time outdoors on sunny days, getting physical exercise, and taking vitamin D supplements. However, if light therapy and self-care measures are not helping you feel better, please seek out a licensed professional for support. Also, you can talk to your doctor to explore if antidepressant medications may help you combat your depression symptoms.

Thankfully, SAD is seasonal, and symptoms should start to fade as daylight hours lengthen in the spring. However, people who have experienced recurring episodes of SAD are more likely to experience it again when daylight hours shorten during future fall and winter seasons. 

If you are pregnant and feeling depressed or think you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder during pregnancy, please contact Essential Pregnancy Services for support. We can connect you with a licensed professional who can help keep both you and your baby safe and healthy. You should never suffer alone.