Symptoms Of Depression While Pregnant
Depression during, and after pregnancy, is more common than you might think. Studies have shown that 1 in 5 women were diagnosed with postpartum depression in the first year and of those, over 26% of the episodes began before pregnancy with a chronic pattern, over 33% of the episodes onset during pregnancy, and about 40% of the episodes began during the postpartum period.1
Symptoms of perinatal depression or with peripartum onset can start anytime during pregnancy, or within the first year postpartum.3
The presentation can differ but some of the most common symptoms of perinatal depression include:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
- Feelings of anger, irritability, or rage
- Lack of interest in the pregnancy or baby
- Loss of interest or pleasure in things that are usually enjoyable
- Feelings of guilt, shame, or hopelessness
- Thoughts of harming the baby or oneself
How Can Depression During Pregnancy Be Treated
If you think you are struggling with antepartum depression, the first and most important step you can take is seeking help. Speak with your doctor about your symptoms and issues. He or she will be able to recommend treatment that would be best suited to you and your child. Treatment methods for depression during pregnancy may include:
Making changes at home may also help you manage your depression symptoms. Speak with your partner, family, or friends about your issues and ask for support. Allow yourself to relax, slow down, cut down on chores and tasks, and put your health and well-being first. Taking care of yourself is vital to taking care of your unborn baby. Some other changes that may help manage depression symptoms include:
What Causes Pregnancy Depression And Who Is Most Vulnerable
The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can affect your brain chemistry, impacting mood. But there are additional risk factors that can slide you towards depression:
A prior history of depression or anxiety
Big life stresses and a lack of social support
Prior or ongoing abuse
Pregnancy depression can be tough to talk about, but getting help can make all difference in the worldfor your own health, as well as for your baby.
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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.
When Should I See My Doctor For Depression During Pregnancy
If you have any symptoms of depression, call your doctor to set up an appointment to discuss your issues and treatment options. If you find yourself having frequent or obsessive thoughts about harming yourself or your unborn baby, contact your doctor or emergency services immediately.
It’s important to call your doctor as soon as possible if your depression symptoms exhibit any of these features:
- Remain after two weeks
- Make it hard for you to care for yourself
- Make it hard to complete everyday tasks
- Include thoughts of harming yourself or your unborn baby
If your depression is severe or worsens over time, it is critical to seek help from a mental health specialist. Seeking help is the best step you can take to ensure that you and your child stay safe and healthy.
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Taking Care Of Your Mental Health During Pregnancy
Pregnancy brings a mix of feelings, and not all of them are good. If you’re feeling worried, you’re not alone. Worry is common, especially during a woman’s first pregnancy or an unplanned one. It can be even harder if you’re dealing with depression or anxiety.
For your health and your baby’s, take care of yourself as much as you can. Be sure to eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and take your prenatal vitamins.
If you’re feeling worried, sad, or nervous, talk to someone about it and know when to reach out for help.
Is My Depression Affecting The Baby
Exposures in pregnancy, whether it be to depression or to medication, carry some risk. During pregnancy, the mothers internal environment plays a big part in the development of her baby. When a mother is experiencing high levels of stress regularly, there is an increase in cortisol production. Increased cortisol production in pregnancy has been linked to increased risk of early miscarriage.9
Studies have found that pregnant women with depression and their babies typically do better if they receive treatment as compared with attempting to deal with untreated depression. Working with a doctor that is comfortable with assessing treatment needs during pregnancy allows for appropriate treatments and better outcomes.
Some, but not all, of the substantially dangerous outcomes for untreated depression in the perinatal period include:4
- Substance abuse
- Increased risk of postnatal depression
- Poor pregnancy outcomes including loss
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What Can Cause Autism During Pregnancy
There is a summary of it. Its an ongoing area of research to determine whether or not a pregnant woman is more likely to have a child with the condition. There is more evidence of an association for certain risk factors. Being older parents, taking certain antiepileptic drugs, and having a preterm birth are some of the risk factors.
Pregnancy Depression Recognize The Signs
Not every woman experiences pregnancy as a happy time: more than every tenth woman develops pregnancy depression during this phase. How does pregnancy depression manifest itself, what are the consequences of the psychological crisis for mother and child and how is it treated?
Most people are familiar with postpartum depression, which usually sets in a few weeks after the birth. What is less well known is that depression is also common during pregnancy. Symptoms such as listlessness, feelings of guilt and depression can have a major impact on the everyday life of those affected, especially in the first and last trimester of pregnancy.
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Risk Factors For Anxiety And Depression During Pregnancy
Doctors once thought that all of those hormones rushing around a woman’s body during pregnancy would shield her from depression. We now know that for some moms-to-be, the opposite is true. But while experts agree that hormones play a role in depression, the exact mechanisms are unknown.
“It may be triggered by any number of physiologic or life stressors,” says Sheila Marcus, M.D., director of the Women’s Depression Program at the University of Michigan Depression Center in the department of psychiatry. “In women with a genetic predisposition to depression, the hormone changes may be one of these stressors,” Dr. Marcus says
Anyone can experience anxiety and depression during pregnancy, but women with these risk factors are especially susceptible:
- A personal or family history of a mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety
- A history of premenstrual dysphoric disorder
- Being a young mother
- Having poor social support
How Is Depression Treated During Pregnancy
Its best if a team of providers treats your depression during pregnancy. These providers can work together to make sure you and your baby get the best care. Your providers may be:
- Your prenatal care provider. This is the provider who gives you medical care during pregnancy.
- Your primary care provider. This is your main health care provider who gives you general medical care.
- A mental health provider. This may be a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, counselor or a therapist.
- Your babys health care provider
Depression can be treated in several ways. You and your providers may decide to use a combination of treatments instead of just one. Treatment can include:
- Counseling, like CBT and IPT
- Support groups. These are groups of people who meet together or go online to share their feelings and experiences about certain topics. Ask your provider or counselor to help you find a support group.
- Medicine. Depression often is treated with medicines called antidepressants. You need a prescription from your provider for these medicines. You may be on one medicine or a combination of medicines. Dont start or stop taking any medicine for PPD without your providers OK.
- Electroconvulsive therapy . In this treatment, electric current is passed through the brain. This treatment is considered safe to use during pregnancy. Providers may recommend ECT to treat severe depression.
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Take Care Of Your Body
Theres a reason you reach for chocolates and ice cream when youre feeling stressed. However, these comfort foods can actually compound your problem. Although its tempting to eat fast food and unhealthy meals, by keeping your nutritional schedule, you can help your body deal with stress more effectively.
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How Does The Time Before Menopause Affect My Mental Health
As you approach menopause, certain levels of hormones in your body begin to change. This initial transition to menopause when you still get a period is called perimenopause. During perimenopause, some women begin to feel symptoms such as intense heat and sweating , trouble sleeping, and changing moods.
As you get closer to menopause, you may notice other symptoms, such as pain during sex, urinary problems, and irregular periods. These changes can be stressful on you and your relationships and cause you to feel more extreme emotions.
Women with mental health conditions may experience more symptoms of menopause or go through perimenopause differently than women who do not have mental health conditions.
- Women with depression are more likely to go through perimenopause earlier than other women. Studies show that women with depression have lower levels of estrogen.10
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Treatment Of Depression While Pregnant
There is a saying: When a baby is born, so is a mother. Becoming a parent can be an incredible experience and usually brings about great joy, but it can also be a time of extraordinary physical and emotional transitions that can be intense at times. Sometimes the expectations of positive emotions can further the confusion for new moms during this critical period.
When an expectant, or new mother is faced with a diagnosis of depression, treatment is needed to prevent worsening of symptoms. Below are some treatment options and alternative modalities to address symptoms of depression in pregnancy.
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.
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What Is Prenatal Depression
Prenatal depression, also called perinatal depression, is depression experienced by women during pregnancy. Like postpartum depression, prenatal depression isnt just a feeling of sadnessmothers who experience this mental health disorder may also feel anxious and angry.
You’ve likely heard of postpartum depressionand that’s a good thing. The more that postpartum depression is talked about and understood, the more mothers will seek the help they need so that they can feel better and live full and healthy lives as new moms.
But prenatal depression is a maternal mood disorder that hasnt gotten nearly as much attention as it should. While prenatal depression can be treated, many expecting mothers dont even know that its a thing and therefore dont seek treatment for it.
Many feel ashamed to even share how they are feeling. After all, you are supposed to be overjoyed and excited when you are expecting a baby, right? Its easy to feel guilt and shame when you are feeling the exact opposite.
Heres what you should know about prenatal depression, including how common it is, what to look for in terms of symptoms, and most importantly, how to get help.
Stopped Or Missed Periods
There are many reasons why a woman may miss her period, or why periods might stop altogether.
Most women have a period every 28 days or so, but its common to have a slightly shorter or longer cycle than this .
Some women do not always have a regular menstrual cycle. Their period may be early or late, and how long it lasts and how heavy it is may vary each time.
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Does Prenatal Depression Affect Your Baby
Mild prenatal depression will not directly affect your baby, but may have some unintended consequences on your pregnancy, which may in turn may affect the health and development of your baby.
For example, if your feelings of depression are making it difficult for you to eat healthfully, attend prenatal appointments with your doctor, or follow healthy guidelines during pregnancy, these might have adverse outcomes on your baby.
If left untreated, severe instances of prenatal depression may affect your ability to gain weight during pregnancy. There is evidence that babies born to moms who experience prenatal depression may have lower birth weights and moms may have increased likelihoods of preterm deliveries. When mothers have moderate to severe perinatal depression, babies can be at risk for sleep issues in their first two years, being diagnosed with a behavioral issue, and other negative consequences.
In addition, women who experience prenatal depression are more likely to experience postpartum depression once their babies are born. Postpartum depression can affect your ability to feel bonded with your baby, and can make your postpartum experience that much more overwhelming and challenging.
Connection To Postpartum Depression And Parenting Stress
Studies have found a strong link between antenatal depression and postpartum depression in women. In other words, women who are suffering from antenatal depression are very likely to also suffer from postpartum depression. The cause of this is based on the continuation of the antenatal depression into postpartum. In a logistical light, it makes sense that women who are depressed during their pregnancy will also be depressed following the birth of their child. This being said there are some factors that determine exclusively the presence of postpartum depression that are not necessarily linked with antenatal depression. These examples include variables like socioeconomic class, if a pregnancy was planned or not, and the parents relationship prior to conception and delivery of the child.
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Unhealthy Pregnancy Due To Anxiety
One school of thought on why anxiety can cause problems in pregnancy is that ineffective coping skills can lead to unhealthy behaviors and habits.
Poor diet, alcohol and drug use, smoking, over-consumption of caffeine and excessive use of over-the-counter pain relievers and sleep aides are examples of these unhealthy behaviors.
Moreover, women who have very stressful lives are unlikely to be under LESS stress after the birth of a child.
This means the environment that the infant born into is going to also cause the child anxiety as he or she develops.
This could easily explain the increased risk for attention deficit disorders, anxiety, and even some developmental delays.
So there, you can be anxious about being anxious.
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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.
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Anxiety And Depression In Children
It is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed with both depression and an anxiety disorder, or depression and general anxiety. About half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Teens: Depression is not your fault or caused by something you did wrong.
Children with depression may display these symptoms:
- Depressed or irritable mood
- Low self-esteem
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression and anxiety disorders can often be treated the same way and at the same time. Like anxiety disorders, depression can be treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy and antidepressants. Learn more about treatment.
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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