Depression in Pregnancy
Pregnancy is supposed to be one of the happiest time of a woman’s life but most women struggle with symptoms of depression at this time. Depression is a mood disorder that involves changes in the brain chemistry. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can affect brin chemicals which are directly linked to depression and anxiety. People who are depressed have a feeling of sadness, anxiety and emptiness that does not go away but interfere with their daily activities. Depression during pregnancy is usually not diagnosed because pregnant women think it is another type of hormonal imbalance. However, it should be noted that depression during pregnancy can be treated and managed. It is therefore important to seek help.
What are the signs of depression during pregnancy ?
People who experience the following symptoms for 2 or more weeks are likely to be depressed.
- little or too much sleep
- difficulty concentrating
- feeling sad, hopeless or overwhelmed
- recurring thoughts of suicide or death
- lost of interest in activities you use to enjoy
- change in eating habits
- crying a lot
- withdrawing from friends and family
What are the possible triggers of depression during pregnancy ?
The following factors can cause depression during pregnancy .
- pregnancy complications
- stressful life events such as death in the family
- previous pregnancy loss
- personal or family history of depression
- relationship or money problems
- young age
- history of abuse or trauma
What is the effect depression on my baby ?
If not treated , this illness can be dangerous to both mother and baby. Untreated depression can lead to bad lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol or substance abuse. These habits can lead to pregnancy complications such as low birth weight, premature birth and developmental problems.
Babies born to depressed mothers tend to show less attention, more irritable and agitated and less active than babies born to mothers who are not depressed.
How is depression treated during pregnancy ?
If you are struggling with depression , talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms. He will discuss the best treatment option for you. Treatment options include :
- light therapy
- support group
- private psychotherapy
What are the risk associated with taking antidepressant during pregnancy ?
There is a debate over the safety and long-term effects of antidepressant medication during pregnancy. Some research shows that these medications have been linked to problems in newborns such as heart problems, physical malformations and low birth weight.
Women with mild depression are usually treated with support light therapy and psychotherapy. However pregnant women whose depression is severe are usually treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medication .
NOTE : All medications cross the placenta and reach the baby. There is not enough data on which medications are entirely safe and those that have long-term effect on the baby. However major depression needs to be treated. These medications may offer help with little risk to the babies.
Are there any natural ways to treat depression during pregnancy ?
Apart from support groups, psychotherapy and light therapy , other naturals way that may relieve symptoms of mild depression include :
- get adequate rest
- stay active
- avoid foods high in caffeine, sugar, processed carbohydrates, artificial additives and low protein
Pregnancy and depression. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/baby/pregnancy-depression. Accessed October 29, 2014
Depression during and after pregnancy fact sheet. Women’s health.gov. http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/depression-pregnancy.html. Accessed October 29, 2014