How To Lower Your Risk Of Prenatal Depression
There is no magic bullet for dodging depression during pregnancy, but to lower your risk, consider your mental health history and talk to your doctor about steps you can take to minimize the chance of becoming depressed or anxious. Many women will want to continue their antidepressant or psychotherapy throughout pregnancy, Spahr says.
Moms-to-be can also make time for activities and rituals that help them feel their best. That could be taking a daily walk, eating well, making regular dates to see friends and getting sufficient shut-eye. But if depression does creep up, dont hesitate to take action. I advise women to be their own advocate and reach out for help and support if they know theyre not feeling well, Spahr says. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
If you or someone you know is struggling and needs this, the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifelife is 1-800-273-8255. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.
What Causes Hormone Problems
Many things can interfere with healthy hormoneproduction, including:
- Eating a diet high in refined sugar:Consuming too much sugar disrupts normal hormone function and can result inexcessive levels of estrogen in relation to progesterone, which increases therisk for mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
- Chronic stress: When stress hits, our bodies respond by releasing hormones that put you into fight-or-flight mode. But when stress is unrelenting, the constant flood of these stress hormones disrupts the production of the bodys other important chemical messengers, leading to hormonal dysfunction.
- Exposure to environmental toxins: Manyeveryday environmental toxins, such as pesticides, are known to interfere with normalhormone production.
- Traumatic brain injuries :Head injuries often cause damage to the pituitary gland, a tiny, pea-sized organ located at the base of the brain. Known as the bodys master gland, the pituitary regulates hormone production, but when it is damaged, it can disrupt the entire hormonal system.
Adrenal And Thyroid Health
Hypothyroid women are more prone to having depression and anxiety.
The adrenal glands help regulate inflammation. When function is compromised, this can also lead to mood symptoms.
Are Antidepressant Medications Safe During Pregnancy
Growing evidence suggests that many of the currently available antidepressant medicines are relatively safe for treating depression during pregnancy, at least in terms of short-term effects on the baby. Long-term effects have not been fully studied. You should discuss the possible risks and benefits with your doctor.
How To Reach Out For Support
Look for support from people who make you feel safe and cared for. The person you talk to doesnt have to be able to fix you they just need to be a good listenersomeone wholl listen attentively and compassionately without being distracted or judging you.
Make face-time a priority. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch, but they dont replace good old-fashioned in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it away.
Try to keep up with social activities even if you dont feel like it. Often when youre depressed it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will make you feel less depressed.
Find ways to support others. Its nice to receive support, but research shows you get an even bigger mood boost from providing support yourself. So, find waysboth big and smallto help others: volunteer, be a listening ear for a friend, do something nice for somebody.
Join a support group for depression. Being with others dealing with depression can go a long way in reducing your sense of isolation. You can also encourage each other, give and receive advice on how to cope, and share your experiences.
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Early Losses And Trauma
Certain events can have lasting physical, as well as emotional, consequences. Researchers have found that early losses and emotional trauma may leave individuals more vulnerable to depression later in life.
Profound early losses, such as the death of a parent or the withdrawal of a loved ones affection, may resonate throughout life, eventually expressing themselves as depression. When an individual is unaware of the wellspring of his or her illness, he or she cant easily move past the depression. Moreover, unless the person gains a conscious understanding of the source of the condition, later losses or disappointments may trigger its return.
Traumas may also be indelibly etched on the psyche. A small but intriguing study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that women who were abused physically or sexually as children had more extreme stress responses than women who had not been abused. The women had higher levels of the stress hormones ACTH and cortisol, and their hearts beat faster when they performed stressful tasks, such as working out mathematical equations or speaking in front of an audience.
What Causes Postpartum Depression
Hormonal changes may trigger symptoms of postpartum depression. When you are pregnant, levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone are the highest theyll ever be. In the first 24 hours after childbirth, hormone levels quickly drop back to normal, pre-pregnancy levels. Researchers think this sudden change in hormone levels may lead to depression.2 This is similar to hormone changes before a womans period but involves much more extreme swings in hormone levels.
Levels of thyroid hormones may also drop after giving birth. The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that helps regulate how your body uses and stores energy from food. Low levels of thyroid hormones can cause symptoms of depression. A simple blood test can tell whether this condition is causing your symptoms. If so, your doctor can prescribe thyroid medicine.
Other feelings may contribute to postpartum depression. Many new mothers say they feel:
- Tired after labor and delivery
- Tired from a lack of sleep or broken sleep
- Overwhelmed with a new baby
- Doubts about their ability to be a good mother
- Stress from changes in work and home routines
- An unrealistic need to be a perfect mom
- Grief about loss of who they were before having the baby
- Less attractive
- A lack of free time
These feelings are common among new mothers. But postpartum depression is a serious health condition and can be treated. Postpartum depression is not a regular or expected part of being a new mother.
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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 Postpartum Psychosis
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 Causes Pregnancy Mood Swings
There are a handful of reasons you may have mood swings during pregnancy hormones, sleep deprivation, and nagging anxiety form just the tip of the iceberg.
Rest assured that you are not just being dramatic, there are real physical, physiological, and mental explanations for this seemingly erratic behavior.
Cortisol And Its Association With Both Antenatal And Postpartum Depression
Harris et al. and Diego et al. were the only studies that identified significant associations across the antenatal and postpartum period. Harris et al. recruited 130 primiparous women and found a negative relationship between depression and evening cortisol from 2 weeks pre-term to 10 days postpartum, with effect sizes ranging from R2=0.100.15. Similarly, Diego et al. recruited 60 women who completed the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale , with an equal number of participants in each of the following groups: 1) Controls 2) CES-D16 during 2327 weeks gestation 3) CES-D16 at 2 weeks postpartum 4) CES-D16 during both the pre and postpartum period. The results revealed that cortisol concentrations were significantly higher in women experiencing depressive symptoms between 2327 weeks gestation and women with depressive symptoms during both the antenatal and postpartum period, in comparison to non-depressed women. However, the study reported a negligible effect size for the latter finding , with the former association producing a moderate effect , suggesting that this relationship is stronger during the antenatal period. Nevertheless, these studies have reported directly opposing findings, with Harris et al. suggesting a negative relationship between cortisol and depression across the perinatal period and Diego et al. indicating a positive relationship.
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Activities For Treating Depression
Talk therapy is a common first step in treatment of depression. However, even if you are not diagnosed with depression, it can be very helpful to talk to a professional about the things that worry you. Your doctor or therapist can help identify sources of stress and anxiety and give you ways to cope.
Trying to be active and doing things you enjoyed before becoming pregnant can improve mood. Consider activities to reduce your stress, such as exercise, yoga, meditation, or listening to music. Some studies suggest that listening to music and music therapy can play a role in helping pregnant women with depression.
Other lifestyle factors, such as eating fresh and nutrient-dense foods during pregnancy, as well as getting adequate sleep can help to improve your mood.
How Can Family And Friends Help
It is important to understand that depression is a medical condition that impacts the mother, the child, and the family. Spouses, partners, family members, and friends may be the first to recognize symptoms of perinatal depression in a new mother. Treatment is central to recovery. Family members can encourage the mother to talk with a health care provider, offer emotional support, and assist with daily tasks such as caring for the baby or the home.
Support or advocacy groups can offer a good source of support and information. One example of this type of group is Postpartum Support International others can be found through online searches.
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Are Mood Swings A Sign Of Pregnancy
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.
Tip : Support Your Health
In order to overcome depression, you have to do things that relax and energize you. This includes following a healthy lifestyle, learning how to better manage stress, setting limits on what youre able to do, and scheduling fun activities into your day.
Aim for eight hours of sleep. Depression typically involves sleep problems whether youre sleeping too little or too much, your mood suffers. But you can get on a better sleep schedule by adopting healthy sleep habits.
Keep stress in check. Not only does stress prolong and worsen depression, but it can also trigger it. Figure out all the things in your life that stress you out, such as work overload, money problems, or unsupportive relationships, and find ways to relieve the pressure and regain control.
Practice relaxation techniques.A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.
Care for a pet. While nothing can replace the human connection, pets can bring joy and companionship into your life and help you feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can also get you outside of yourself and give you a sense of being neededboth powerful antidotes to depression.
Develop a wellness toolbox to deal with depression
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Depression Symptoms In Women Due To Hormones
It is common for menopause to prompt emotions of sadness and depression in women. It is estimated that between 8% and 15% in menopause experience depression in women of some form, often beginning in perimenopause.
The onset of perimenopause and menopause result in a variety of physical and emotional symptoms which can cause stress, frustration, and ultimately depression. These symptoms, added to an already full load of responsibilities with your family, work, finances, etc., can be just too much to deal with. It doesnt help that most women dread menopause all of their lives due to the horror stories that are passed along by friends and family members.
Beyond that, depression, like stress, may be another symptom of menopause. The hormone imbalance associated with perimenopause and menopause inhibits your body from managing stress and experiencing positive moods. Hormones and depression in women are closely related.
Will Having Depression During Pregnancy Affect My Baby
If pregnancy depression goes untreated, it can make it harder for you to take care of yourself. You may be less likely to eat healthy or sleep, and you may be more likely to smoke or use alcohol or other substances. This, in turn, can impact not only your own health and wellbeing but your baby’s.
Untreated depression during pregnancy has been linked to a higher likelihood of a baby being born early or having a low birth weight and with health complications. Research also suggests that babies born to women with depression are more likely to be irritable and may cry more than babies born to moms who aren’t depressed. Later in life, children may be at greater risk of emotional, developmental, and behavioral problems.
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Signs Of Depression During Pregnancy
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that women get screened for depression and anxiety at least once during pregnancy. But even with a screening, identifying prenatal depression can be difficult because symptoms can look like typical pregnancy symptoms, Spahr says. Thats why its important to take anything that feels off or worrisome seriously. If youre at all feeling depressed during pregnancy, talk with your physicianand ask for a second opinion if your concerns are dismissed as just a part of pregnancy.
While symptoms of depression during pregnancy vary from person to person, they may include:
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Feeling sad or emotionally numb
- Crying frequently
- Being overly anxious about your baby
- Experiencing low self-esteem or questioning your adequacy as a parent
- Smoking, drinking alcohol or using illicit drugs
- Having suicidal thoughts
Depression In Pregnant Women And Mothers: How It Affects You And Your Child
Depression is an illness that affects the way people think, act and feel. About 6% of women will experience depression at some point in their lives. This number increases to about 10% for women who are pregnant.
Women are more at risk of depression while they are pregnant, and during the weeks and months after having a baby. During pregnancy, hormone changes can affect brain chemicals and cause depression and anxiety. Sometimes, pregnant women dont realize they are depressed. They may think they have symptoms of pregnancy or the baby blues, which many women experience right after birth.
Its also important to know that as many as 10% of fathers experience postpartum depression after the birth of a child.
The good news is that depression can be treated. Read the signs listed below, and talk to your doctor if you have any of them. Let your partner and family members know the signs so that they can also be aware.
If you dont get help, depression can cause problems for you and your baby.
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