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Postpartum Depression

Winter and PPD
By Karen Kleiman, MSW
Karen KleimanQ. My husband and I are considering trying to conceive now, but I am concerned about having a baby in the winter months. We live in Toronto, and the winter can drag on. I suffer from anxiety attacks and am seeking treatment from a psychologist. Normally the winter is depressing for me, and I am worried about not being able to take my baby outside and being cooped up indoors. Is there evidence that PPD strikes more in the winter months? Should I wait until I can have a spring baby?

A. Yes, it's true that many women suffer from seasonal depression that worsens during the dark long days of winter. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean you *will* get depressed during that time, but if you know you're at risk, it's certainly something to keep in mind. Whether you should "schedule" yourself around this or not, well, only you and your husband can make that determination. But in general, the way we deal with any risk factor for depression is to either reduce the risk or fortify your resources. That means you might have to double up on your help at home or make sure you are connected to professionals for support, meds, or whatever has helped in the past, etc. Because the hard truth is, sometimes, no matter what you do to plan around it, or prepare for it, the depression can potentially still emerge. So you can design the perfect plan to protect yourself and still be caught off guard. Discuss this with your husband and doctor and I'm sure you'll come up with a plan that suits you and your family the best.

As far as I know, there are no studies that directly link PPD with seasonal factors, other than the association with depression in general. But it makes sense, that being stuck inside due to weather, won't help brighten things up much. It affects different women differently. Go with your instincts on this one . . . good luck.

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