Can Pregnancy Cause Severe Depression

Treatment For Antenatal Depression

Depression During Pregnancy

Treatment can include:

  • Counselling and talking therapies: therapists look at whats contributing to your depression and try to help you change the way you feel. Make sure they are registered with an accredited body, like the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy or the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy or British Psychoanalytic Council
  • Medication: antidepressants can help to ease symptoms. Women who have a history of depression or havent responded to therapy are more likely to be offered medication. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , or tricyclic anti-depressants and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors do have some rare risks associated with them. But they are generally considered safe in pregnancy.
  • Combination of both: different people respond to different treatment so talk about your options with your GP.
  • Contact organisations like MIND , Well Scotland or Inspire in Northern Ireland.

Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression

The symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to symptoms of depression, but may also include:

  • Crying more often than usual.
  • Feelings of anger.
  • Feeling distant from your baby.
  • Worrying or feeling overly anxious.
  • Thinking about hurting yourself or your baby.
  • Doubting your ability to care for your baby.

If the situation is potentially life-threatening, call 911.

Call or text 988, or chat at

988 is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365, connecting those experiencing a mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis with trained crisis counselors.

24/7, Free, Confidential Hotline for Pregnant and New Moms in English and SpanishCall or text 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS .

What Is Antenatal Depression

Antenatal depression is when you feel sad all the time for weeks or months during your pregnancy. The condition can vary from mild to severe and can affect women in different ways.

Some women have depression after having a baby. This is called postnatal depression.

Pregnancy can be a very emotional experience and it can sometimes be difficult to know whether your feelings are manageable or a sign of something more serious. Pregnancy hormones can affect your emotions, you may also have difficulty sleeping and you may be feeling sick. This can all make you feel low.

Trust yourself. You are the best judge of whether your feelings are normal for you. Talk to your midwife or GP if you think you have any symptoms of depression and they last for more than two weeks.

Depression is a mental health condition and not a sign of weakness, something that will go away on its own or that you should just snap out of. Depression can be treated with the right care and support.

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Depression And Anxiety In Pregnancy

Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand up to half of people experience symptoms of both at the same time. Women who experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy are also more likely to have postnatal depression.

It’s common for pregnant women to worry about their baby’s health, what the birth experience will be like, and many have concerns about weight gain or body shape. While as many as 3 out of 10 women experience some level of anxiety during pregnancy, some may have more severe symptoms that need extra support. Seek help if you experience the following:

  • stress or feeling on edge much of the time
  • feelings of panic or helplessness

Are Mood Swings A Sign Of Pregnancy

How to Deal with Depression During Pregnancy? · Mango Clinic

If you find yourself sobbing at a sappy commercial one minute, and then absolutely enraged over an empty ice-cream container the next, you may be experiencing pregnancy-related mood swings or perhaps not.

Quickly shifting emotions can be an early sign of pregnancy. Your hormones are suddenly raging, and your inability to control your feelings may catch you off guard. If you suspect youre pregnant, nerves and anxiety can further drive this response.

If your emotions are all over the place, and you think you might be expecting, the best thing to do is take a pregnancy test. Many women experience similar mood swings before the arrival of their period, so taking a test will give you a definitive answer one way or the other.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Antenatal Depression

“Pregnancy is meant to be such a happy time but because we dont talk about mental health in pregnancy women dont know that it can be a very different story.”

Typical signs of depression include if you:

  • feel generally down most of the time
  • cant be bothered with things
  • cant concentrate or make decisions
  • dont enjoy life
  • feel irritable and dont want to be with other people
  • feel restless and agitated
  • think about harming yourself or suicide.

You may not have all these symptoms and they may come on gradually or you may suddenly start to feel very low.

If you feel like you want to harm yourself or feel like you want to die, its important to tell someone. This could be a family member, friend, your GP or midwife. Help is available now if you need it. You can call the Samaritans on 116 123.

“I wasnt sleeping well and Id wake up with that horrible feeling of doom starting every day. Id cry at the drop of a hat about things that wouldnt normally make me cry.”

What Is The Treatment For Depression

Treatment for depression usually involves a combination of self-help, talking therapies (such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy and medicines.

Everyone is different, so treatments that may work for some people may not work for others. Your doctor will help you decide whats best for you. You will probably also be referred to a perinatal mental health specialist and will be monitored more closely during and after your pregnancy.

The treatment you have will be your decision. Your healthcare professional can help you by talking to you about what youd like to do and explaining the risks and benefits of all options.

They will also talk to you about:

  • whats best for your stage of pregnancy
  • any risks medication may pose to your baby
  • the risk that you might become unwell again without medication
  • how bad your symptoms are
  • whether you have had the condition before
  • how well the medication has worked for you so far, if you are already taking it.

If the recommended treatment is antidepressants, your doctor will discuss the risks of the treatment to your baby, including:

  • what is known about their safety during pregnancy
  • whether the baby may have some mild symptoms when born and whether breastfeeding may reduce the possibility of these occurring.

If you understand the risks to you and your baby and still decide to stop medication, your doctor should talk to you about other ways to manage your symptoms. For example, they may suggest talking therapies.

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What’s The Difference Between Antenatal Depression And Other Conditions

You might hear the terms antenatal, postnatal and perinatal depression and wonder what the difference is between them. Antenatal depression refers to depression that starts during pregnancy, while postnatal depression develops between 1 month to a year after birth.

As depression can occur anytime around pregnancy, you may also hear the term perinatal depression used to describe depression that happens before, during or after pregnancy and childbirth.

Whats The Difference Between Baby Blues And Postpartum Depression

Depression During Pregnancy, Infertility, or Infant Loss

The baby blues is a mild form of postpartum depression that many new moms experience. It usually starts 1 to 3 days after the birth and can last for 10 days to a few weeks. With baby blues, many women have mood swingshappy one minute and crying the next. They may feel anxious, confused, or have trouble eating or sleeping. Up to 80% of new moms have the baby blues. Its common, and it will go away on its own.

About 13% of new mothers experience postpartum depression, which is more serious and lasts longer. You are at a greater risk if you have a family history of depression or have had depression before.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • feeling like you cant care for your baby,
  • extreme anxiety or panic attacks,
  • trouble making decisions,
  • hopelessness, and
  • feeling out of control.

No one knows exactly what causes postpartum depression. If you think you have the symptoms, its important to get help right away. Postpartum depression needs to be treated. Talk to your doctor or call your local public health office.

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Frequently Asked Questions Expand All

  • What is depression?

    Depression is a common illness that can be mild or very serious. It is more than feeling sad or upset for a short time or feeling grief after a loss. Depression changes your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and physical health. It affects how you function in your daily life. It can also affect how you relate to your family, friends, and coworkers. Depression can occur at different times of life or in different situations.

  • How common is depression during pregnancy?

    Depression is common during pregnancy, affecting about 1 in 10 pregnant women. Some women have depression and anxiety for the first time in their lives during pregnancy or after delivery.

  • What are the signs of depression during pregnancy?

    The signs of depression can seem like the normal ups and downs of pregnancy. A blue mood now and then is normal. But its important to know the signs of depression. Talk with your obstetriciangynecologist if you have any of these signs for at least 2 weeks:

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day

  • Loss of interest in work or other activities

  • Feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless

  • Sleeping more than normal or having trouble sleeping

  • Loss of appetite, losing weight, or eating much more than normal and gaining weight

  • Feeling very tired or without energy

  • Having trouble paying attention, concentrating, or making decisions

  • Being restless or slowed down in a way that others notice

  • Thinking about death or suicide

  • The fetus not growing well in the uterus

  • It Was Time To Get Help

    She actually began researching ways to end her life. The suicidal thoughts were intermittent and not long-lasting. But even after theyd passed, the depression remained. At about five months postpartum, Saremi had her first-ever panic attack during a Costco shopping trip with her baby. I decided I was ready to get some help, she says.

    Saremi talked to her primary care doctor about her depression, and was happy to discover he was both professional and nonjudgmental. He referred her to a therapist and suggested a prescription for an antidepressant. She opted to try therapy first and still goes once a week.

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    Treatment Options For Pregnancy Depression

    Depression is one of the most common pregnancy complications, so talk to your practitioner. At your prenatal visits, it’s likely your provider will ask you about your mood and how you’re feeling. If she doesn’t, be sure to bring it up.

    Talking about mental health issues can be hard, and it’s easy to think you’re the only one who feels this way. But your provider likely sees many other women going through a similar experience. Remind yourself that she’s there to help, not judge.

    There are two main treatment options available to help you manage pregnancy depression, which may be used alone or in combination: psychotherapy and medication.

    What Is Prenatal Depression

    Postnatal Depression

    Prenatal depression is depression that happens during pregnancy. Depression causes ongoing or extreme sadness. It can also cause anxiety, fatigue and trouble sleeping. If you have this mood disorder, you may withdraw from family and friends. You may not have any interest in activities you once enjoyed.

    Prenatal depression can affect you at any time during pregnancy. Postpartum depression is depression that develops after you have the baby. Its important to note that prenatal and postpartum depression are different from the baby blues.” The baby blues usually resolve within two to three weeks. Meanwhile, prenatal and postpartum depression dont go away without treatment.

    Symptoms of depression sometimes get better with lifestyle changes. But if they dont, providers treat this condition with therapy and medications. If you have prenatal depression, you are not alone. Depression is a common medical condition, and treatments can help.

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    How Is Prenatal Depression Diagnosed

    If you have signs of prenatal depression, its important to get an evaluation. Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms Theyll want to know when they started and how often they occur.

    They may recommend seeing a mental health professional . This specialist can offer a complete evaluation and treatment. Tell them if you have a history or family history of depression or other mood disorders.

    What Should I Do If I Have Symptoms Of Postpartum Depression

    • Your baby blues dont go away after 2 weeks
    • Symptoms of depression get more and more intense
    • Symptoms of depression begin within 1 year of delivery and last more than 2 weeks
    • It is difficult to work or get things done at home
    • You cannot care for yourself or your baby
    • You have thoughts about hurting yourself or your baby

    Ask your partner or a loved one to call for you if necessary. Your doctor, nurse, or midwife can ask you questions to test for depression. They can also refer you to a mental health professional for help and treatment.

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    Are There Any Natural Treatments

    With the controversy regarding the use of some antidepressants during pregnancy, many women are interested in other ways to help treat depression. As mentioned above, support groups, psychotherapy, and light therapy are alternatives to using medication when treating mild to moderate depression.In addition to these, you may want to talk with your health care providers about some of the other natural ways to help relieve the symptoms of depression.

    If you do not feel comfortable talking with your health care provider about your feelings of depression, find someone else to talk with. It is important that someone knows what you are dealing with and can try to help you. Never try to face depression alone. Your baby needs you to seek help and get treatment.

    Want to Know More?

    What Is Postpartum Psychosis

    Why we all need to talk about postpartum depression | Auburn Harrison | TEDxUniversityofNevada

    Postpartum psychosis is rare. It happens in up to 4 new mothers out of every 1,000 births. It usually begins in the first 2 weeks after childbirth. It is a medical emergency. Women who have bipolar disorder or another mental health condition called schizoaffective disorder have a higher risk of postpartum psychosis. Symptoms may include:

    • Seeing or hearing things that arent there
    • Feeling confused most of the time
    • Having rapid mood swings within several minutes
    • Trying to hurt yourself or your baby
    • Restlessness or agitation
    • Behaving recklessly or in a way that is not normal for you

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Prenatal Depression

    Everyone feels sad, anxious or worried occasionally. Its normal to feel this way from time to time, especially during pregnancy. But depression symptoms dont go away after a few days. They can last for weeks or months, and they can worsen over time. Symptoms of depression during pregnancy include:

    • Anxiety, excessive worrying and irrational thoughts.
    • Changes in appetite and unexplained weight loss or weight gain .
    • Fatigue, sleeping more than usual, or difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep .
    • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, numbness, emptiness or guilt.
    • Irritability, excessive crying or other mood changes or mood swings.
    • Loss of interest in sex and difficulty connecting with your partner.
    • Physical symptoms that dont result from a health condition or other cause. These may include headaches, muscle aches and gastrointestinal problems.
    • Problems concentrating, remembering things, reasoning or making decisions.

    In severe cases, people with this disorder have thoughts about harming themselves or their unborn baby. If you have self-harm thoughts or thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. This national network of local crisis centers provides 24/7 free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

    Shame Prevented Me From Getting Help

    For Saremi, the road to getting proper care was long. During one of her third trimester visits, she says she discussed her feelings with her OB-GYN and was told she had one of the worst scores on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale that hed ever seen.

    But there is help for depression during pregnancy, says Catherine Monk, PhD and associate professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University. In addition to therapy, she says, its safe to take certain antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors .

    Saremi says she did discuss the results of the test with her therapist, whom shed been seeing before she became pregnant. But, she adds, her doctors both kind of wrote it off.

    I rationalized that most people lie on screeners, so my score was probably so high because Id been the only honest person which is ridiculous when I think about it now. And she thought I didnt seem that depressed I didnt seem it from the outside.

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    Can Depression Be Cured

    With treatment, most people recover from depression. Treatment can include one or more of the following:

    • Social support: Community services or parenting education.
    • Family therapy: With your partner and/or children. This can help when children are older.
    • Individual therapy: Talking one-on-one with a family doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or other professional.
    • Medication: Drugs used most often to treat depression are SSRIs .

    Can Depression During Pregnancy Be Prevented

    Depression During Pregnancy: My Experience, Causes, Symptoms, and Help

    The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says that certain kinds of counseling can prevent perinatal depression for women at increased risk of depression. Counseling is when you talk about your feelings and concerns with a counselor or therapist. This person helps you understand your feelings, solve problems and cope with things in your everyday life.

    The Task Force recommends counseling for women who have one or more of these risk factors:

    • Current signs and symptoms of depression
    • A history of depression or other mental health condition
    • Being pregnant as a teenager or being a single mom
    • Having stressful life circumstances, like low income
    • Being a victim of IPV

    The Task Force recommends two kinds of counseling to prevent depression for women at increased risk:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy . CBT helps you manage negative thoughts by changing the way you think and act. Common kinds of CBT include working with a therapist to help you set goals and identify negative thoughts and behaviors so you can begin to think and act differently.
  • Interpersonal therapy . IPT helps you identify and deal with conditions and problems in your personal life, like relationships with your partner and family, situations at work or in your neighborhood, having a medical condition or losing a loved one. Common kinds of IPT include working with a therapist in role-playing, answering open-ended questions and looking closely at how you make decisions and communicate with others.
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