How To Get Help For A Loved One
Oftentimes, pregnant women will feel added pressure to be happy due to societal expectations. Depression can impact people in all stages of life, even during the times that are expected to be joyous. If you think that a loved one is feeling depressed there are some things that you can do to help. First, trust your instincts. Dont be afraid to ask the person if they are having a difficult time or feeling down.
Many times people think that bringing up the subjects of depression or suicide will worsen the symptoms, or remind the person of how poorly they are feeling. The truth is that many times they are already feeling isolated, alone, or too embarrassed to be honest and are in need of extra encouragement to share the burden.
One of the most helpful ways to assist someone who is depressed is to listen to them, asking them open ended questions about how they are feeling and what they are experiencing. Your loved one has the ability to get better and your support of treatment can make a world of difference.
What Are Signs Of Depression And Anxiety During Pregnancy And After Giving Birth
Typical signs of depression and anxiety include:
- Feeling or being much more tearful than usual
- Not being able to enjoy things that you used to
- Not feeling connected to or affectionate towards your baby
- Feeling scared or panicky for no reason
- Changes in eating
- Changes in sleeping
- Severe depression symptoms thoughts of harming yourself, someone else or the baby
If you are experiencing several of the above symptoms or have noticed a significant change in your mood or motivation, you should speak to a health or mental health professional.
For more information about depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after giving birth, .
Whats The Difference Between Baby Blues And Postpartum Depression
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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Talking To Your Health Care Provider About Your Mental Health
Communicating well with your doctor health care provider can improve your care and help you both make good choices about your health. Read our Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit. For additional resources, including questions to ask your doctor, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
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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Risks Of Depression During Pregnancy
Depression during pregnancy can negatively impact the health and wellbeing of the mother and developing infant. A pregnant woman suffering from depression might not be able to properly engage in the level of self-care needed during this important time. This can lead to poor nutrition and inadequate weight gain. Depression during pregnancy also increases the risk of post-partum depression, which can interfere in a mothers ability to bond with and care for her newborn, including providing the routine medical care her baby needs.
A developing baby can be harmed by maternal depression March of Dimes, 2019). Babies whose mothers are depressed are at risk of premature birth and low birth weight, both harmful to infant health. These babies are frequently more irritable and less active or responsive than babies whose mothers didnt have untreated depression during pregnancy. Other risks to the baby include developmental delays and learning- or behavior problems later in life.
Fortunately, depression in pregnancy is treatable. You and your baby dont have to suffer, and negative consequences arent inevitable.
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 Can Happen If Depression Is Not Treated
Untreated depression can hurt you and your baby. Some women with depression have a hard time caring for themselves during pregnancy. They may:
- Eat poorly
- Use harmful substances, like tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs
Depression during pregnancy can raise the risk of:
- Problems during pregnancy or delivery
- Having a low-birth-weight baby
Untreated postpartum depression can affect your ability to parent. You may:
- Lack energy
- Feel moody
- Not be able to meet your childs needs
As a result, you may feel guilty and lose confidence in yourself as a mother. These feelings can make your depression worse.
Researchers believe postpartum depression in a mother can affect her baby. It can cause the baby to have:
- Delays in language development
- Behavior problems
- Increased crying
It helps if your partner or another caregiver can help meet the babys needs while you are depressed.
All children deserve the chance to have a healthy mom. And all moms deserve the chance to enjoy their life and their children. If you are feeling depressed during pregnancy or after having a baby, dont suffer alone. Please tell a loved one and call your doctor right away.
What Causes Depression During Pregnancy
No one knows for sure, and depression is far from a guaranteed side effect of pregnancy. But it’s a pretty sure bet that those raging hormones play a significant role.
Hormones directly affect the brain chemistry that controls emotions and mood. Those same hormonal fluctuations that wreak premenstrual emotional havoc can lead to prenatal depression.
In fact, research has found that women who suffer from pronounced PMS are at greater risk for depression during pregnancy.
Genetics may play a role too. Depression tends to run in families. If anyone in your family has a history of depression or any other mood disorder, youre more susceptible to experiencing it too.
Add in one or more of the risk factors like those mentioned above, and you have all the potential ingredients for a case of depression.
In short, depression during pregnancy is usually the result of a combination of factors, not all of which are fully understood.
What is known is that depression doesnt happen because a woman did something wrong, and moms-to-be arent to blame for these emotional valleys. The important thing is understanding your risk factors, knowing the signs that you could be depressed, and seeking help when you need it.
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Prenatal Depression May Be The Most Severe Form Of Maternal Depression
My patient felt ecstatic when she saw the two dark pink lines on her pregnancy test. She wasnt surprised when fatigue and nausea soon followed. But she began to worry when she couldnt sleep and became engulfed in sadness that eclipsed her maternal joy.
She confided in a couple of close girlfriends.
Everyone told me that I was hormonal and that I would begin to feel better during my second trimester, she said.
Her husband told her that she had always been a worrier and that she just needed to try to rest and relax.
A constant stream of worries raced through her mind: What if theres something wrong with the baby and the ultrasound didnt detect it yet? What if I develop gestational diabetes and I have to go on bed rest? What if I have one of those difficult babies who cries all of the time because of colic?
On top of all that, I began to worry that my thoughts were hurting my baby, she said.
Even though she had heard of postpartum depression , the mental health disorder that affects up to 20 percent of new mothers, she was unaware that depression often begins during pregnancy.
When her obstetrician asked her how she was feeling during her pregnancy, she broke down in tears. Her doctor asked her a few more questions about how she was sleeping and if she was feeling overwhelmed. When she finally opened up to her doctor about her struggles, she learned that she was suffering from prenatal depression.
This post has been updated.
Should I Stop Taking Anti
If you are taking an anti-depressant and considering becoming pregnant or are pregnant, you should always speak to your prescriber about the best course of action. There are anti-depressants that are considered to be safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Click here for a news report on the potential dangers of stopping taking anti-depressants during pregnancyif you have experienced severe depression.
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Why Does Depression During Pregnancy Often Go Unrecognized
Depression is often dismissed during pregnancy since depression symptoms, such as changes in energy levels, sleep, libido, and appetite, also occur in pregnancy . Therefore, it is usual that you and your doctor may attribute these symptoms to pregnancy over depression. Also, a mothers physical health is emphasized more than emotional health during pregnancy. But, depression can have a greater impact on the mother and the baby, and hence it is important to be aware of the signs.
How To Tell The Difference Between Mood Swings And Depression
Symptoms of depression can include changes in sleep, energy, and appetite. But these symptoms could also be normal, pregnancy-related changes. Thats why its important to discuss any symptoms with your doctor. Theyll look for additional clues to see if what you are experiencing is normal or something more.
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It Felt Like A Light Turned Off In My Brain
Its unlikely that a woman who has experienced depression during her pregnancy will magically feel different once her baby is born. In fact, the feelings can continue to compound. When her son was born, Saremi says it quickly became clear to her that she was in an unsustainable situation when it came to her mental health.
Almost immediately after his birth while I was still in the delivery room it felt like all the lights turned off in my brain. I felt like I was fully enveloped in a dark cloud and I could see outside it, but nothing I saw made sense. I didnt feel connected to myself, much less my baby.
Saremi had to cancel newborn pictures because she says she couldnt stop crying, and when she got home, she was overwhelmed by scary, intrusive thoughts.
Afraid to be alone with her son or leave the house with him by herself, Saremi confesses she felt hopeless and despondent. According to Farkas, these feelings are common among women with perinatal depression and its important to normalize them by encouraging women to seek help. Many of them feel guilty for not feeling 100 percent happy during this time, Farkas says.
Many struggle with the tremendous change having a baby means and the responsibility of what it means to care for another human being who is fully dependent on them, she adds.
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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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?
Depression During Pregnancy: Know Your Risks
Postpartum depression awareness is on the rise, and with good reason — one in nine women deal with it after giving birth. But depression during pregnancy is often still overlooked, even though it happens just as frequently as the postpartum variety.
One of the biggest reasons for this, is that many of the physical symptoms of pregnancy and depression are the same, such as change in appetite, problems concentrating, feeling tired, insomnia, even aches and pains, says Veerle Bergink, MD, PhD, professor in the departments of psychiatry and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive Science at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
âThe complicated thing about depression during pregnancy is that your body is changing so much already,â she says. âYouâre already feeling atypical.â
Another complicating factor is that though some practitioners may make a point to ask questions about your mood, depression screening isnât a routine part of prenatal care. âThere has been much more attention to postpartum depression,â Bergink says. âIt’s much more common to screen for that than prenatal depression, even though it would actually it be more logical to start screening when women first come into the office during pregnancy.â
But, she says, depression isn’t something you choose to have, and you canât blame yourself for having it. The more women share their struggles, the less hidden prenatal depression will be.
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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 also can 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
How Does Depression Affect The Outcome Of Pregnancy
Studies examining obstetric complications in women who are depressed during pregnancy are difficult to interpret because the possible consequences of untreated depression are difficult to separate from the possible consequences of taking psychotropic medication. Some findings suggest that depressed pregnant women have an increased risk of complicated deliveriesw15 or miscarriage,w16 but the latter tends to be associated with exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy.w17 There is more convincing, but inconsistent,w18 evidence of an association between antenatal stress and preterm delivery or low birth weight, or both,67w19 w20 w21 as in the case report presented here where the baby was born after 35 weeks gestation. Most of these studies used various measures of psychosocial stress, but the associations with poorer birth outcomes were more evident when measures of depression were used.7w21 The effects of depression on birth outcome are more evident in poorer countries2w3 and among relatively deprived social groups in the economically developed world.w6 w10 w19 One of the most replicated findings is the poorer birth outcomes for African-American women compared with non-Hispanic white women.w6 w7 A study from Pakistan has shown that the negative effects of maternal antenatal depression on infant growth continue for at least a year after birth.2
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