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Pregnancy and Depression

What a strange problem; during a time of life that is celebrated in every culture and is met with tremendous enthusiasm for desired pregnancies, some women can feel profound sadness and clinical depression. It is a testament to the power of hormones and neurotransmitters. Despite the sincere desire to be pregnant and to have a child, some women will have hormonal changes that cause melancholy.


Compounding the sadness triggered by hormonal changes, is the guilt that many women feel about being sad during an otherwise joyous time of life. Often, friends and family do not understand this mood change. They begin to ask: “Do you really want this baby?” They tell you to “snap-out-of-it”, as if you became depressed by choice. Relations with your partner begin to fray and a seemingly unbreakable downward spiral continues.


Fortunately, there is hope. There is hope because pregnancy is a temporary state. There is hope because the hormonal changes will often equilibrate. There is hope because there are good therapies available. If the depression is profound and prolonged, medications may be necessary. However, there are a number of therapies that pose no risk to your baby and can be very beneficial.


Bright light therapy is a well known and well proven treatment for depression that is little used in this country, but is widely prescribed around the world. A 10,000 lux light box can be purchased for about $300. It is a mainstay of treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Typically, one to two hours/day in front of this bright light is adequate, and takes effect immediately.

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