When you’re pregnant, everyone around you thinks and assumes that you must be feeling all rosy and happy at all times. However, there is a lot more going on. This is a time when fear, anxiety, confusion, stress, and even depression can set in.
The American congress of obstetricians and gynecologists (ACOG) has found that between 14-23 percent of women struggle with some symptoms of depression during pregnancy.1
What Is Depression?
It is completely normal for you to feel down from time to time and the feeling of depression can last for mere weeks, sometimes even months. As a mood disorder, depression causes feeling of sadness and hopelessness. From the way you think or act, to the way you eat or sleep it greatly affects your life. Feeling this way can be hard at any point in time and it can especially be difficult to cope with when you’re pregnant.
Symptoms Of Depression During Pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, feeling fatigued or having trouble sleeping is normal. However, there is a problem if you’re feeling a sense of sadness, hopelessness, or disinterested in everything that you do. You may be depressed if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms for most of the day for at least 2 weeks or longer.2
- Persistent sadness
- Feeling of guilt or worthlessness
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating
- Feeling extremely irritated or agitated
- Crying all the time
- Change in eating habits
- Feeling of anxiety
- Loss of interest in activities that you otherwise enjoy
- Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or hopelessness
Treatment Of Depression During Pregnancy
There are a number of treatment options when it comes to helping you deal with depression during pregnancy. The main tools include the use of psychotherapy and medication. If you’re struggling with depression, the first step forward is to to seek help. Speak with a qualified health care professional about your depression symptoms. Engaging yourself in support groups and taking up light therapy can be good.
While these techniques seem ideal to treat mild to moderate depression, any severe form of depression may require the use of medication like antidepressants. It is normal for you to be concerned when it comes to taking medication to treat depression as it can affect the newborn. In such a situation, it is important that you seek collaborative medical care from your mental health provider. Besides these techniques, there are a couple of all natural ways that you can try for effective relief from the symptoms of depression.
- Get a good amount of physical exercise, as it naturally increases serotonin levels and decreases cortisol levels.
- Make sure to get enough rest. Lack of sleep can greatly affect your ability to function normally.
- Maintain a proper diet and get adequate amounts of nutrition to improve your overall physical and mental health.
- Acupuncture is a viable option when it comes to treating depression in pregnant women.
Causes Of Depression During Pregnancy
Depression can affect anyone. This mood disorder affects three times as many women as men. Women often experience symptoms of depression during their 20s – around the time of their first pregnancy. Here are a few contributing factors that can cause depression.3:
1. Personal History Of Depression Or Anxiety
If you were depressed or had anxiety during an earlier pregnancy or after the birth of a previous child, you’re more likely to have depression again when you’re pregnant. You also stand a greater risk of developing postpartum psychosis, where you end up having hallucinations.
2. Family History Of Depression
If your family members have had depression, you’re more likely to develop depression at a younger age. The risk of suicide also increases when there’s a family history of depression.
3. Stress Related To An Unplanned Pregnancy
Your chances of getting stressed and feeling depressed increase when you have to deal with a completely unplanned pregnancy.
4. Lack Of Family Support
If you’re expecting, having any sort of relationship issues or an unsupportive partner can lead to you feeling depressed. Even having a baby on your own or isolating yourself from friends and family can only do more harm. Instances of domestic violence and emotional abuse can also increase your risk of depression.
Coping with the physical, hormonal, and emotional changes during pregnancy can be hard when you’re depressed. The best step forward is for you to seek help from a qualified medical professional immediately and find a treatment plan that works well for both, you and your little one.
|↑1||Depression and Postpartum Depression: Resource Overview. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists|
|↑2||Depression in pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association.|
|↑3||Wichman, Christina L., and Theodore A. Stern. “Diagnosing and Treating Depression During Pregnancy.” The primary care companion for CNS disorders 17, no. 2 (2015).|