Womens Health

Depression in Pregnancy

While pregnancy can be one of the more exciting times in a woman's life, studies have shown that one out of every ten pregnant women exhibits signs of depression.  The hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy can cause pregnant women to feel anxious and depressed.

While this depression will most likely pass after pregnancy, it is important that the symptoms not be ignored.  Make sure to let your medical practitioner know how you're feeling.  Your emotional and psychological well-being is just as important as your physical health. In fact, it can even adversely affect your physical well-being.  Depression during pregnancy that is left untreated can lead to poor nutrition, anxiety attacks, suicidal thoughts and drinking problems.  Any or all of these responses to depression can be harmful to the mother and fetus.

Who is at risk?

Family history: If you have a personal or family history of depression, you have a higher risk of developing depression during pregnancy.

High risk pregnancies: High risk pregnancies can cause anxiety and stress,  which in turn can lead to depression. 

Prior loss: Those who have experienced pregnancy loss are more likely to experience depression and anxiety during subsequent pregnancies.

Lack of support: If your spouse or partner is not supportive of your pregnancy or does not recognize or validate your emotional needs in pregnancy, then depression could develop. A single mom without outside family or friends' support could also become depressed because of feelings of helplessness.

How to treat Depression in Pregnancy:

Talk with your doctor or midwife to determine what the best course of action.  If you are suffering from major depression,he or she may recommend that you consult with a therapist who could help you with either psychotherapy or safe antidepressant medications.  Your doctor or midwife may also recommend that you get more rest, and advise you to get help and support.  He or she may even recommend that you try to change your diet and limit stimulants such as caffeine and sugar.

Make sure you are open and honest with your partner, family and friends.  Talking about your fears and worries can really make a difference.  It is important to get as much rest and support  before the baby is born.  It is also important to remember that those who suffer from depression during pregnancy or have a history, family or personal, of depression, are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression.

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