How To Handle Depression While Pregnant

How To Know If Youre Depressed While Pregnant

Depression During Pregnancy & How To Deal

As mentioned, its completely normal to have feelings of sadness during your pregnancy. After all, you are going through a huge physical change, and it can obviously affect your mental well-being at the same time. Only by identifying your mental health situation can you begin looking into ways to deal with depression while pregnant.

But, how do you know if what you are feeling is depression? There are a few signs that point to a larger issue of depression in pregnant mothers. If you are feeling any of the following symptoms for two weeks or more, please reach out to your doctor:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Recurring thoughts of death, suicide or hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest in activities that you usually enjoy
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Change in eating habits

Even if you are not experiencing these exact symptoms, but you are worried about your mental health and feel like something is off, dont hesitate to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Something to note: Taking a pregnant and depressed quiz or reading an article online cannot provide a medical diagnosis of depression. Please, please speak with your local doctor or mental health professional if you think you may be experiencing depression while pregnant.

Preventing Depression During Pregnancy

Unfortunately, there is little evidence to suggest that screening for depression during pregnancy affects patient outcomes. Besides eliminating life stressors that a woman has control over, there may be no singular way to prevent depression during pregnancy. However, if a woman feels any symptoms of depression or just feels off, she should still not hesitate to make an appointment with her health care provider, psychiatrist or psychologist. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help.

It is important to note that if a woman was prescribed antidepressants before her pregnancy, she should not stop taking her medication without the consent and approval of a licensed medical professional. There could be negative side effects associated with suddenly stopping antidepressants, including insomnia, anxiety, headaches, dizziness and nausea.

Causes & Risk Factors For Depression While Pregnant

Many pregnant women are subjected to a wave of strong emotions, which includes feeling sad, hopeless, and experiencing a general loss of interest. This can last for a prolonged period and could cause an upheaval in daily life. Hence, it is important to know what causes this and understand its risk factors.


Some of the main causes of depression during pregnancy are:

  • History of depression during childhood or early adulthood
  • Hormonal changes and psychological changes associated with pregnancy
  • Physical changes that occur during pregnancy, like weight gain and changes in sleep and eating patterns

Risk Factors:

  • Marital/relationship problems or other kinds of stress during pregnancy
  • Financial issues connected to the birth of the baby
  • Abortions in the past or loss of a previous child

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What You’ll Find In The Toolkit

This workbook consists of six modules:

Module 1: Introduction for health care providers

  • Why this guide was created

  • What is the BC Reproductive Mental Health Program

  • Who is this guide for?

  • How to use this guide

  • Were looking for feedback

  • Disclaimer

Module 2: Information for women

What is depression during pregnancy and following the birth?

  • Learning about the symptoms of depression

  • If I am depressed why do I feel anxious?

  • Why some women develop depression

  • Why some women choose not to seek help

Module 3: Getting help

a. Treatment options for women with depression during pregnancy and following the birth

  • What are the treatment options for depression?

  • How do I choose which treatment is best for me?

  • Using Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy to treat depression

b. Cognitive behaviour therapy for depression during pregnancy and following the birth

  • The Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy model of depression

  • Understanding the connection between different symptoms

c. Self-care: The NEST-S program

  • Nutrition

Symptoms Of Antepartum Depression

How to deal with depression when pregnant

Pregnancy symptoms can vary greatly with each woman and each pregnancy. Feeling nervous during pregnancy is normal. You may be worried about your health, the health of your baby and the future ahead of you. Depression during pregnancy can be caused by relationship problems, complications in pregnancy, infertility treatments, a previous pregnancy loss or any number of major stressful life events. Women with antepartum depression will generally experience symptoms for two weeks or more. Symptoms of antepartum depression include excessive anxiety, change in sleeping patterns, loss of interest in normal activities, persistent sadness, feelings of guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness, significant weight loss or gain, and thoughts of suicide or death. It is important to note that women who have a history of depression, feel alone, and/or do not have adequate spousal and family support, are more likely to become depressed and not seek help.

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Complementary And Alternative Medicine

Studies have shown that alternative treatments are beneficial in the treatment of depression among pregnant women. The treatments include light therapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture. These are great for women who do not wish or may not be able to take antidepressants. However, they may not work for all.

Female Who Become Pregnant While Taking Anti

As much as this point, this discussion has actually been about the care and treatment of a female who establishes depression during her pregnancy. What about women who conceive while taking antidepressants? In this situation, the female and her doctor need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of continuing this medication. Research suggests the best risk to the fetus would remain in the first trimester, so a lady and her doctor should resolve this concern as early in the pregnancy as possible.

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What Causes Depression During Pregnancy

Since of hormonal modifications during pregnancy, a lady may not understand that she is suffering from depression. Initially, depression may not appear various from the anxiety, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and numerous other symptoms that are normal of pregnancy. However, when a woman is depressed these symptoms are more frequent and severe. If she is depressed, the symptoms last for more than two weeks and avoid the woman from expecting the joy of bringing a brand-new life into the world. She may also experience other symptoms that are clearly related to depression such as consistent unhappiness, feelings of insignificance or ideas of suicide.

If a female has struggled with depression in the past, she may be quicker to understand her scenario than a female who has never had depression prior to. It is essential that anybody with depression seek help, so a woman who doesnt acknowledge her depression is at higher risk than a lady who is aware of her scenario. A depressed pregnant lady may not have the will to look after herself and her unborn baby. She might not eat correctly. She may drink or smoke or participate in lethal habits. As a result, her baby could be born with developmental problems.

Weighing Benefits And Risks

Depression While Pregnant| Coping Mechanisms| Going Through Pregnancy Alone

“Have a discussion with your doctor about the risk and benefits about being on an antidepressant if you are pregnant,” says Epperson. “If you can be off a medication, of course you should be, but if you can’t — and a lot of women can’t — then antidepressants can help.”

With both psychotherapy and antidepressants, a pregnant woman can overcome depression and enjoy the birth of their child, and be assured that the risk that antidepressants pose to their child is small.


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How Does Depression Affect Pregnancy

Experiencing depression during pregnancy can impact a mothers health in several ways. Depression during pregnancy can affect you by:

  • Interfering with your ability to care for yourself. Its important to take care of your own health during your pregnancy. Depression can cause you to push those personal needs aside. If youre depressed during pregnancy, you might be less able to follow medical recommendations, as well as sleep and eat properly.
  • Placing you at a higher risk of using harmful substances. These substances can include tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs. Depression may cause you to turn to these substances, all of which can have a negative impact on your pregnancy.
  • Interfering with your ability to bond with your growing baby. While your baby is in the womb , the baby can actually hear you talk and can sense emotion by the pitch, rhythm and stress in your voice. If you are experiencing depression during your pregnancy, you might find it difficult to develop this bond with your baby. You might feel emotionally isolated.

How To Handle Depression While Pregnant

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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Should Ssris Be Discontinued During The Course Of Pregnancy

The question, Should my patient be advised to discontinue her SSRIs late in pregnancy secondary to concerns of neonatal abstinence syndrome and persistent pulmonary hypertension? is often asked. While studies demonstrate that newborns who are exposed to SSRIs during the last 2 weeks of pregnancy have an increased risk of respiratory distress and seizures, the prevalence of this complication in these 2 groups is similar when the severity of maternal mental illness is accounted for. Given the concerns for relapse of depression and anxiety in the postpartum period, several experts recommend that SSRIs be continued throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period.,

Loneliness And Depression During Pregnancy

How to Deal with Depression During Pregnancy? · Mango Clinic

Meredith Shur, MD, FACOG, is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, as well as a certified medical examiner.

While many people are aware of postpartum depression, a condition that occurs shortly after the birth of a baby, less talked about is depression occurring during pregnancy, which is called prenatal depression.

Although estimates vary, one study found that around 25% of women experienced prenatal depression. However, it also isn’t uncommon for women to experience some depressive symptoms even though they may not be severe enough for a diagnosis of depression.

Experiencing depressive symptoms during pregnancy can increase the risk of developing postpartum depression. Experts recommend that all women should be screened for depression both during and after pregnancy.

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What Is The Role Of The Primary Care Provider In Caring For Women With Perinatal Depression

Given that 50% of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, preconception planning is a necessity, even if a woman does not identify that she is planning for conception in the near future. Documentation of birth control planning should be completed during each visit with a reproductive-aged woman. Additionally, the risks of medication to the pregnancy and fetus should be reviewed with the initial prescription of an antidepressant, rather than at time of conception. For women who are actively trying to conceive, establishing an appropriate psychotropic medication regimen, or tapering and discontinuing of medications if appropriate, is a vital role of the provider.

Once a patient is identified as having perinatal depression, the primary care provider has the opportunity to closely monitor the patient, especially if involved in obstetrical and/or pediatric care, and work with the patient and mental health professional to provide the care the patient deserves in order to have the best outcome possible.

What Causes Depression

Were not exactly sure. It may be a combination of things, like changing chemicals in the brain or changing hormones. Hormones are chemicals made by the body. Some hormones can affect the parts of the brain that control emotions and mood.

Depression also may be caused by genes. Genes are parts of your bodys cells that store instructions for the way your body grows and works. Genes are passed from parents to children. Depression is more common in people whose family members have depression. This is called a family history of depression.

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Not Treating Is Risky

But if the depression is so bad that a pregnant woman is not eating or gaining weight, for instance, then it needs to be treated as aggressively as possible.”

For women at risk for depression during pregnancy — those who have battled major depression in the past or who experienced depression during a previous pregnancy — the news is good: The risk associated with the use of antidepressants during pregnancy is small.

But what should be considered when deciding whether or not to take an antidepressant, or to try other therapies first? And, what research is available to help put an expectant mom’s mind at ease?

“For mild or moderate depression, I’d rather use psychotherapy or group therapy than antidepressants,” says Hendrick, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and bio-behavioral sciences at UCLA.

But for pregnant women with major depression, the risk of a relapse after stopping antidepressant medication is greater than the risks posed by treating it with medication.

“If health behaviors are not good because of the depression, that could have a negative impact,” says Hendrick. “If a woman is not eating, not sleeping, feeling stressed or anxious — these could have an adverse impact on a developing fetus. And obviously, suicidal feelings are another adverse risk associated with depression.”


Untreated major depression during pregnancy may also cause infants to have an increased sensitivity to stress.

Can Pregnancy Cause Depression

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Answering conclusively if pregnancy causes depression requires extensive research involving many study participants who have experienced depression before, during and after pregnancy. This type of research is difficult to conduct and receive adequate funding. Thus, the direct causes of depression during pregnancy are not completely clear.

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Teen Pregnancy And Depression

What about teen pregnancy and depression? Teen pregnancy is often stigmatized and associated with accidental pregnancies. A study conducted in 2018 found that pregnant teenagers had higher rates of depression relative to other teenagers and pregnant adult women. However, teenage depression while pregnant was not due to childbearing, but rather other factors. For instance, teenage mothers who reported depression during pregnancy often reported being depressed prior to becoming pregnant. These results suggest that psychologically distressed teens may be at a higher risk for teen pregnancy.

Can Depression During Pregnancy Be Prevented

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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    Can Depression During Pregnancy Cause Harm To My Baby

    Depression that is not treated can have potential dangerous risks to the mother and baby. Untreated depression can lead to poor nutrition, drinking, smoking, and suicidal behavior, which can then cause premature birth, low birth weight, and developmental problems. A woman who is depressed often does not have the strength or desire to adequately care for herself or her developing baby.Babies born to mothers who are depressed may be less active, show less attention and be more agitated than babies born to moms who are not depressed. This is why getting the right help is important for both mom and baby.

    • Light therapy

    What Factors Increase My Risk Of Being Depressed During Pregnancy

    How To Deal With Depression While Pregnant 2021

    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.
    • Living alone.
    • Feeling ambivalent about your pregnancy.

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