How To Handle Depression When Pregnant

What Are The Common Pregnancy Fears And Worries

Depression During Pregnancy & How To Deal

Pregnancy is a very beautiful phase for most women. At some points in those nine months, it can be an on-top-of-the-world and exciting time, and at others it can plunge you in the depths of gloom and despair. Mood swings are common during pregnancy due to all the hormonal changes that are happening in the body. These hormonal changes, in turn, affect the levels and functioning of the neurotransmitters leaving the pregnant woman exposed to a range of emotions and reactions. Every woman has her own threshold of dealing with anxieties and stresses: for some, it is more difficult to cope with the changes and uncertainties that pregnancy brings, while for others the pain of delivery might be giving them jitters. Some of the common worries, shared with me, by some pregnant women include:

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How To Deal With Depression During Pregnancy

When she has actually agreed to seek treatment, a pregnant female with depression will try to find treatments that will not harm her unborn child. She should not assume that the only treatment for depression is antidepressant medication. There are many other therapies that might help her manage moderate depression. Such therapies include workout, acupuncture, psychotherapy and support system.

These therapies, accompanied by the assistance of friends and family, may be enough to manage a ladys depression during her pregnancy. They ought to be the first choice of action for women who have been detected with moderate or moderate depression.

If I Take Antidepressants During My Pregnancy Will They Hurt My Baby

You may think you should stop taking medication for depression when you are pregnant. Remember that, if left untreated, depression can have serious effects for both you and your baby. If you are taking antidepressants and are thinking about getting pregnant , talk to your doctor first, before stopping any medication. You can also consult the following trusted resources:,

Some newborn babies may have symptoms such as irritability, fast breathing, tremors and poor feeding if their mothers took antidepressants during pregnancy. These symptoms are usually mild and pass quickly, usually within 2 weeks. These babies typically respond well to a quiet environment, swaddling, skin-to-skin contact, and frequent small feeds. Serious problems such as heart defects or more severe breathing issues are very rare.After your baby is born, they will be watched closely to make sure they are healthy. Your doctors and nurses will make sure that you are both well before letting you go home. You may need to stay an extra day or two in the hospital so that they can be sure.

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What Causes Perinatal Depression

Perinatal depression is a real medical illness and can affect any motherregardless of age, race, income, culture, or education. Women are not to blame or at fault for having perinatal depression: it is not brought on by anything a mother has or has not done. Perinatal depression does not have a single cause. Research suggests that perinatal depression is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Life stress , the physical and emotional demands of childbearing and caring for a new baby, and changes in hormones that occur during and after pregnancy can contribute to the development of perinatal depression. In addition, women are at greater risk for developing perinatal depression if they have a personal or family history of depression or bipolar disorder or if they have experienced perinatal depression with a previous pregnancy.

Postpartum Psychosis Postpartum psychosis is a severe mental illness that occurs after childbirth. PP is a medical emergency, and it is important to seek help immediately by calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency room. Women who have PP can have delusions , hallucinations , mania , paranoia, and confusion. Women who have PP also may be at risk for harming themselves or their child and should receive help as soon as possible. Recovery is possible with professional help.

Aim For At Least 8 Hours Of Sleep Per Night

How to Deal with Depression During Pregnancy? · Mango Clinic

Sleep is essential for mental well-being, but can be especially challenging during pregnancy. Pregnant womenâs sleep may be interrupted by feeling uncomfortable and frequent trips to the bathroom. Lack of sleep during pregnancy can both cause stress and also be a symptom of stress.8 If you are already feeling stressed, you might find your mind racing when itâs time to go to bed. There are steps you can take to try to improve your sleep, but if you continue to have a hard time, consider discussing this issue with your medical provider or a sleep specialist.

To improve the quality of your sleep, try to practice good sleep hygiene.9 This includes avoiding caffeine, sugar, and large meals before bed, not utilizing electronic devices in the evening hours, and making sure that your bedroom area is cool, dark, and quiet. If you need noise to fall asleep, opt for relaxing sounds or white noise, which are less stimulating than having a television on in the background.

Create a bedtime routine that includes laying down and waking up around the same time each day, including on weekends. Try to exercise earlier in the day, which can help you feel more tired during bedtime. Also, if you are having trouble falling asleep, avoid watching the clock. Instead, practice some deep breathing or mindfulness to help you feel more relaxed.

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What Causes Depression During Pregnancy

While experts don’t fully understand what causes depression during pregnancy, it’s likely due to a mix of emotional, physical, and environmental factors. Preparing for a baby brings about lots of big changes, many of which feel out of your control including concerns about giving birth, being a good parent, and the loss of your former life. Hormonal changes can also impact a woman’s odds of developing pregnancy depression.

While women who have already been diagnosed with depression and anxiety are more likely to be diagnosed with pregnancy depression, many women are diagnosed with the disorder for the first time while they’re expecting.

Should I Take An Antidepressant

Whether to take an antidepressant is a complex and often tough decision. The evidence on the safety of these medications in pregnancy does show some risk of potential birth defects, and also withdrawal symptoms in baby after birth. You have to weight the potential benefit to you and the baby against medical risks of taking antidepressants in pregnancy. I address this thoroughly in Depression in Pregnancy: Should You Take Medications?.

For mild to moderate depression, natural approaches can be tried first, and are often all that is needed, but women should also consider being under the care of a midwife or obstetrician and a mental health provider simultaneously.

Women with moderate to severe depression, in addition to trying these 10 tips, should be under the care of a physician who specializes in prenatal depression. Medications are an option that should be considered in severe cases, or in moderate-severe cases where your health is at risk because you aren’t able to take care of yourself but in moderate-severe cases one can often try natural treatment for a few weeks first .

The new medicine for women as I call my whole women approach to Functional Medicine, includes the best combination of available strategies for individual women, used with wisdom and common sense.

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Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale

The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a simple checklist that asks about your mental health. It can indicate whether youre experiencing symptoms that are common with depression and anxiety, and help you recognise when you need to seek support.

Find out more about the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale from Beyond Blue.

How To Treat Depression During Pregnancy

How can I deal with depression during pregnancy?

For most women, psychotherapy is just as effective, if not more so, than medication for treating prenatal depression and anxiety, Spahr says. A good therapist can help women figure out how to manage conflict with their partner, understand their mixed feelings about becoming a mother or expanding the family, and process thoughts and feelings that may be surfacing from the past. Some therapists do specialize in maternal care, but when searching for someone to see, the most important factor to take into account is whether you feel comfortable opening up to them.

Moms-to-be with prenatal depression also have the option of taking antidepressants. If you choose to take medication, you and your doctor can weigh the benefits and risks and your physician will likely prescribe a low dose to minimize babys exposure. The antidepressants typically considered safest to take during pregnancy include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors , bupropion and tricyclic antidepressants.

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How Common Is Depression During Pregnancy

Contrary to the popular belief that pregnancy protects women from affective illness, the prevalence of mood disorders is similar for pregnant and nonpregnant women. Between 12% and 15% of women meet criteria for depression at some point during their pregnancy or the postpartum period.6,7 It is unclear why the second and third trimester of pregnancy seem to be linked with an increased risk of depression .

What Do You Need To Know About St Johns Wort To Treat Depression

St. John’s wort is an herb that some people use to treat depression. We dont know for sure how well it works in pregnant women or if it can cause problems during pregnancy. Herbal products arent regulated by the Food and Drug Administration , so there isnt much information about how safe it is for pregnant women or rules about how much you can take.

If youre thinking about taking St. Johns wort or any other herbal product during pregnancy, talk to your provider first. Theres very little information on how herbal products may affect your pregnancy.

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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Depression In Pregnancy

Having trouble sleeping or general fatigue are considered normal symptoms during pregnancy. However, if you lose interest in things that gave you pleasure or feel sad and hopeless about the situation, it is likely to be a sign that you have depression. It is best to discuss with your doctor if the following symptoms have been with you for more than a fortnight and are a part of your daily life:

  • Feeling of irritation or agitation
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Loss of interest in daily activities and nothing seems like fun
  • Feeling of sadness and crying all the time
  • No or low energy to carry out day-to-day tasks
  • Feeling of being worthless or lacking initiative
  • Excessive need to sleep or eat/ Not being able to sleep
  • Overwhelming feeling of anxiety

What Are The Symptoms Of Antenatal Depression

How To Handle Emotions During Pregnancy

“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.”

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Factors That Contribute To Depression In Pregnancy

While we cant say definitively that one thing causes depression during pregnancy, OBGYNs know there are many contributing factors. The risk factors for depression during pregnancy include:

  • Prior history of depression seems to be the most important risk factor
  • Current anxiety
  • Unintended or unwanted pregnancy
  • Life stress, including adverse life events and socioeconomic status
  • Intimate partner violence and lifetime history of physical and/or sexual abuse
  • Poor social support
  • Certain personality traits
  • Family history of depression
  • What Factors Increase My Risk Of Being Depressed During Pregnancy

    There are many different factors that can add to your risk of developing depression during your pregnancy. These risks can include:

    • Having a history of depression or premenstrual dysphoric disorder .
    • Your age at time of your pregnancy the younger you are, the higher the risk.
    • Feeling ambivalent about your pregnancy.

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    What Are Some Causes Of Depression During Pregnancy

    Some women who experience antepartum depression have a history of major depression prior to pregnancy. However, many women have their first experience of depression while they’re pregnant. Antepartum depression is thought to be caused by a combination of hormonal changes and psychological disturbances associated with pregnancy. Physical changes, such as changes in body and changes in sleep and eating habits, while normal aspects of pregnancy, can also contribute to the development of antepartum depression. Risk factors for antepartum depression include:

    • Personal or family history of depression
    • Stressful life events, like the death or illness of a loved one
    • Lack of a partner or social support during pregnancy
    • Relationship problems, including domestic violence
    • History of abuse or trauma
    • Financial stress, including poverty
    • Unplanned pregnancy

    Are There Any Natural Treatments

    I hate being pregnant : dealing with prenatal depression

    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.

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    How Common Is It

    Depression in pregnancy is very common. Around one in every ten pregnant women has antenatal depression.

    I just started feeling snappy, not my usual self at all I shrugged it off at first and thought it was just my hormones playing up. However, it started to get worse. I knew I really wanted the baby, but I didnt feel like I wanted it.”

    Clare, mum of one

    You may be more likely to get antenatal depression if you:

    • have had depression before
    • are going through a very difficult life event, such as a bereavement or divorce
    • dont have support from family or friends
    • are having an unplanned pregnancy
    • have experienced domestic abuse or violence.

    But anyone can get depression in pregnancy, even if they have no experience of anything in this list. It can happen out of the blue and affects women from all walks of life. You are not alone.

    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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    The Impact Of Depression On Your Pregnancy

    We know that depression can have an impact on your daily life and health even when youre not pregnant. Depression can lead to a compromised immune system, poor nutrition, and substance abuse.

    When youre pregnant, studies suggest that depression can affect not only you and your body but also your offspring. Some reasons depression could affect your child longer term include:

    • Epigenetic changes in the placenta and umbilical cord blood
    • Changes in maternal and fetal central nervous system functioning
    • Dysregulation of maternal hormones and increased fetal exposure to cortisol
    • Not following prenatal care
    • Substance use disorders
    • Depression lasting even after pregnancy

    Depression during pregnancy is also associated with a small increased risk of preterm birth or pregnancy loss. But it does not appear to be associated with the development of preeclampsia or gestational diabetes, or with NICU admission for the baby.

    Depression, when left untreated, can continue to affect your baby and child as they grow and develop. Some studies suggest that risk of anxiety, ADHD, conduct disorder, antisocial behavior, and depression in children are greater in children of depressed pregnant women.*

    How To Handle Depression While Pregnant

    How to deal with anxiety and depression during pregnancy

    It can be difficult to reach out for help, but its crucial that you address your symptoms of depression since being depressed can lead to reductions in prenatal care. The first step is to talk with your physician, midwife, or therapist. You can address your symptoms through ongoing therapy and possibly through medication. There are medications that are safe to take while pregnant which can treat your symptoms, and your physician or midwife can talk to you about this option.

    In addition to seeking out medical attention, changing some of your daily habits and including some new practices can help. Though depression can impact the way you sleep and your diet, its important to get as much rest as possible and nourish your body with healthy foods. Both will give you more energy, which can improve your mood.

    Getting enough physical activity each day can also help. That doesnt mean you have to do anything strenuous. A walk around your neighborhood is a great way to get your blood pumping. Exercise and being out in nature are both natural mood-boosters. For an even greater benefit, take that walk with a friend, family member, or your partner. Feeling supported and understood can make a big difference in your attitude and outlook.

    If youre pregnant and dealing with depression, feel free to contact me. Together, we can work on even more strategies to combat those feelings so you can enjoy this unique stage of life.

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