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.
Seeing A Reproductive Psychiatrist
If you have a mood disorder, you may benefit from speaking with a reproductive psychiatrist when you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. Ideally, this should happen when you are planning for pregnancy, although this isnt always possible. Meeting with a doctor after you become pregnant is not too late.
Osborne says her approach with patients is to limit the number of potentially harmful exposures to the baby. This means considering the number of medications a mother is on, as well as her psychiatric illness.
If a woman takes a low dose of many medications and we have time to plan, well try to get that down to a higher dose of fewer medications, she says. If a woman is on a low dose and its not controlling her illness, then her baby is exposed to both the medication and the illness. In that case, I would increase the medication dosage so her baby isnt exposed to the illness.
If your illness is mild, your doctor might recommend getting off medication and replacing it with treatments such as psychotherapy, prenatal yoga or acupuncture to improve your mood.
Ultimately, Osborne says women should weigh the risks of medication against the risk of untreated illness.
If a particular side effect is extremely rare, its still a very rare event even if you double the risk, she says. Medication risks are typically not greater than those of untreated mental illness. Switching a womans medication is something I do very carefully and reluctantly.
Ways To Treat Depression Naturally During Pregnancy
Studies have shown that exercise can be as beneficial as anti-depressants in treating depression.
Unfortunately for many people suffering from depression, it is most difficult to do the things that will help the most. This is the situation I found myself in early in my pregnancy. Iâve never been much of an exerciser for exercisesâ sake, so nothing sounded worse than hitting the gym or going for a run. Sure I probably needed to exercise but just couldnât drag myself to do it.
If you find yourself in the same boat, maybe just start small and go for a short walk around the block or to the mailbox. Iâm hoping that, now that Iâm not quite as down as before, I can go for walks regularly which will not only get my blood pumping and endorphins flowing through my brain, but Iâll get some sunshine too.
2. Get some sun
It is true that sunshine warms the soul. And thereâs good reason for that. From exposure to sunlight, our bodies are able to produce vitamin D. When people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, often real or artificial sunlight is part of the treatment. There is just something about being out in nature that brings a feeling of peace and helps put things into perspective.
3. Take Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements
4. Add a B vitamin supplement
5. Get some talk therapy
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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.
What Are Some Symptoms Of Depression During Pregnancy
Some symptoms of depression, like fatigue or trouble sleeping, can be normal during pregnancy. However, if they are accompanied by negative feelings that inhibit you from being able to function in daily life, you may have depression. You may have depression if you have experienced any of the following symptoms for two weeks or more:
- Persistent sadness
- Having headaches, stomach problems or other aches and pains that dont go away
- Having low energy or extreme fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest
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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
- feel guilty
- 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.”
Living With: Depression During Pregnancy
Depression during pregnancy is a very difficult and sensitive subject. Statistics from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest that between 14 and 23 percent of women suffer from some form of depression during pregnancy. There are many questions that the pregnant woman and her family must struggle with. Is she truly suffering from depression or is her behavior caused by normal pregnancy hormones? If she is suffering from depression, what can she do? What can her family do? Are there any treatments that wont harm the baby?
Because of hormonal changes during pregnancy, a woman may not realize that she is suffering from depression. At first, depression may not seem different from the anxiety, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and many other symptoms that are typical 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 prevent the woman from anticipating the joy of bringing a new life into the world. She may also experience other symptoms that are clearly associated with depression such as persistent sadness, feelings of worthlessness or thoughts of suicide.
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Antidepressants And Pregnancy: Tips From An Expert
Most pregnant women want to do everything right for their baby, including eating right, exercising regularly and getting good prenatal care. But if youre one of the many women who have a mood disorder, you might also be trying to manage your psychiatric symptoms as you prepare to welcome your new baby.
Its common for doctors to tell women with mood disorders to stop taking drugs like antidepressants during pregnancy, leaving many moms-to-be conflicted about giving up the medications that help keep them healthy.
Lauren Osborne, M.D., assistant director of the Johns Hopkins Womens Mood Disorders Center, talks about why stopping your medication may not be the right approach. She explains how women can and should balance their mental health needs with a healthy pregnancy.
Depressions During Pregnancy Treatment
There are many treatments and natural remedies that can help with mild to moderate depression during pregnancy. These include:
Talking to a therapist either in-person or over video chat. Look for someone with experience in treating prenatal and postnatal depression.
Joining an online support group. Find a postpartum depression support groupthey often support women with pregnancy depression as well.
Trying light therapyalso called phototherapywhich involves getting lots of morning sunlight or sitting next to a light box that mimics sunlight. Used to treat seasonal affective disorder, light therapy also can help pregnancy mood problems.
Getting exercise has been shown to improve mood, so long as you dont overdo it.
Acupuncture is safe for treating depression during pregnancy and can be very relaxing.
Supplementing with Omega-3, which has been shown to reduce depression symptoms .
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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.
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:
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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.
Treating Depression During Pregnancy Naturally
October 21, 2011 Keeper of the Home
This post is the follow up to last months post on Staceys experience with Depression in Pregnancy. The first post was intended to bring awareness to the issue and offer hope and encouragement, and this second post takes a closer look at some of the natural and wholistic methods of treating depression while pregnancy. There is another detailed post on this site with natural remedies for treating depression, but please note that that post does not take into account the safety of various remedies during pregnancy.
In my last post here on Keeper of the Home, I talked about my struggles with ante-natal depression, or depression during pregnancy.
Very soon after finding out I was pregnant, the anxiety and depression hit and it hit so suddenly and so severely that my efforts to fight it on my own were ineffective and frustrating, only adding further to my depression. I was spiraling downward quickly, and with two young boys to care for, my husband and I decided I should go on an anti-depressant medication, under the advice of my doctor, to try and get some relief as quickly as possible.
There are, however, a myriad of ways to treat ante-natal depression naturally. Preventing and treating things naturally is our preferred form of treatment but due to extreme morning sickness and the almost instantaneous drop I felt shortly after finding out I was pregnant, my husband and I felt we had no choice but to use another means for a time.
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Can You Take Antidepressants During Pregnancy
Many pregnant women are wary of taking medications during pregnancy.
Theres the concern, that the doctor will automatically place them on an antidepressant, Clark said. But thats not always the case. Sometimes just following up and counseling will help.
If a doctor does determine a patient needs to be on medication, or refers a patient to a psychologist who makes that call, there are many options.
While some antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications may be associated with minor risks of birth defects or other developmental issues, many others are safe for pregnant women to take. And in most cases, if a woman needs to be on a medication, the risks of taking that medication are far less than the risks of the mom-to-be going untreated.
Theres definitely still stigma behind pregnant women who need to take medications for any kind of mental health disorder, Clark said. But the fact remains that we need to have a healthy mom to have a healthy baby, and if that means she needs to take medication, that is perfectly fine.
How Can Depression Be Treated During Pregnancy
As with nonpregnant depressed individuals, treatment of depression involves both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic approaches. Importantly, nonpharmacologic treatment of depression in pregnancy avoids any known or unknown risks associated with fetal pharmacologic exposure. Providing a patient with education on the topic of depression and the postpartum period is paramount. Psychotherapy should be offered if the patient is able to engage in a psychotherapeutic relationship. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, supportive psychotherapy, and conjoint therapy are excellent options in this population. Other nonmedicinal interventions include improvement in nutrition and diet elimination of caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol and facilitation of proper sleep hygiene. Reduction of stressors, as well as provision of information on relaxation techniques, can also be useful. Some will benefit from referral to local support groups for women who struggle with depression during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Additionally, bright light therapy may be beneficial to those women who have a seasonal component to their affective illness.
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What Can Family Members Do
If you are a friend or family member of a pregnant woman whom you suspect is suffering from depression, you should do what you can to support her and encourage her to seek help. Do not ignore her expressions of sadness and despair, but instead listen with understanding and patience. Encourage her to seek a diagnosis and treatment, and follow up with her to ensure that the treatment is effective. It is imperative that a pregnant woman know if she is suffering from depression because it affects her health and the health of her baby.
Research on the treatment of depression is ongoing and researchers are developing new therapies all the time. The important thing is to recognize when a pregnant woman may be depressed and to encourage her to seek treatment as quickly as possible. That way she can take good care of herself and her developing child.
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.
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