Pregnancy depression is a mental illness that lasts at least two weeks and causes you to feel gloomy or hopeless. You may also be irritable or nervous about your baby, and you may have trouble concentrating or sleeping. One out of every ten women experiences depression during pregnancy, owing to hormonal changes and the life adjustments that come with becoming a parent.
It’s natural to experience low moods from time to time. Depressed people, on the other hand, have emotions of melancholy or hopelessness that endure for weeks or even months.
Depression is a mental condition that can influence every part of your life, including how you think, act, and eat. It can affect your capacity to care for yourself and your baby while you’re pregnant.
It’s difficult to cope when you’re feeling this way at any time, but it’s extremely difficult while you’re pregnant. There’s an assumption that pregnancy should be a happy period, so it can be difficult to accept if you’re not feeling that way.
Recognize that depression is a medical condition, not a choice. And it’s shockingly common: about one out of every ten pregnant women suffers from depression.
There are numerous successful therapies available, even if you have been diagnosed with severe clinical depression. Treatment will be more effective if you begin it as soon as possible. So don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. Emotional well-being is just as vital as physical well-being.
What causes depression during pregnancy?
While doctors aren’t sure what causes depression during pregnancy, experts believe it’s a combination of emotional, physical, and environmental variables. Preparing for a kid involves a lot of huge changes, many of which feel out of your control — worries about giving birth, being a good parent, and the loss of your previous life, to name a few. Hormonal changes can also affect a woman’s chances of experiencing depression during pregnancy.
Pregnancy depression is more common in women who have already been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, but many women are diagnosed with the disease for the first time while pregnant.
Symptoms of depression in pregnancy
Some depressive symptoms, like as exhaustion or difficulty sleeping, are common during pregnancy. However, you may be suffering from prenatal depression if you feel gloomy or hopeless, lose interest or pleasure in activities you used to love, or are unable to function in your everyday life, and these symptoms linger for weeks.
If you’ve had any of the following symptoms for at least two weeks, you may be depressed:
- Loss of interest in daily tasks, or a feeling that nothing is enjoyable or enjoyable anymore
- Every day, you feel “blue,” “sad,” or “empty” for the majority of the day.
- Low self-esteem, such as the belief that you will fail as a parent
- Constantly crying
- Feeling upset or agitated to the point of rage
- Are you worried about your child?
- Finding it difficult to focus or make decisions?
- Low energy or acute exhaustion that does not improve with rest
- Having changes in your eating or sleeping patterns, such as the want to eat or sleep all of the time or the inability to eat or sleep at all
- Feelings of remorse, worthlessness, or hopelessness are overwhelming.
- Having the impression that life isn’t worth living
According to research, these symptoms are more likely to occur during the first and third trimesters.
Pregnancy is also a typical time for women to experience the first signs of postpartum depression (PPD), or depression that occurs one year after giving birth. In fact, half of women with PPD experience depression symptoms for the first time during pregnancy.
Consult your healthcare physician if you believe you are depressed. Depression can only be diagnosed by a medical or mental health expert.
Risk factors for depression during pregnancy
Depression can strike at any time in one’s life. However, women are diagnosed with depression twice as often as males, presumably due to hormonal swings associated with menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth.
Several risk factors for pregnancy depression have been identified, including:
Personal history of depression or anxiety
You’re more likely to feel depressed now that you’re pregnant if you’ve previously struggled with depression or anxiety, such as during a previous pregnancy or after the delivery of a previous child.
If you’re experiencing anxiety during your pregnancy, you’re more likely to be diagnosed with prenatal depression.
Family history of depression
You have a larger risk of developing depression if it runs in your family, and you’re more likely to develop it at a younger age.
Prenatal depression is more common in women whose partners have been diagnosed with depression or another mental disease.
Dealing with traumatic circumstances during pregnancy, such as financial difficulties, the end of a relationship, the death of a close friend or family member, or the loss of a job, can lead to depression.
Smoking, drinking, or using stress-relieving medicines that haven’t been prescribed by a doctor increases your chance of pregnant depression, as well as health concerns for your baby.
Lack of support
You’re more likely to be depressed if you’re having your baby alone, or if you feel lonely or receive little support from friends or relatives. Depression can also be exacerbated by relationship issues or an unsupportive partner.
Pregnancy depression is more likely if there are issues in the pregnancy, such as birth deformities in the infant or being pregnant with multiples.
Having previously experienced a miscarriage or a traumatic birth raises the chance of depression during a subsequent pregnancy.
Pregnancy is already physically taxing, but dealing with a chronic illness like high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes can be even more difficult. Furthermore, having diabetes or gestational diabetes while pregnant raises the chance of depression throughout pregnancy.
Finding out you’re pregnant when you weren’t planned on it can be quite stressful, and it can lead to sadness.
Domestic violence or a history of abuse
When you’re pregnant, it’s very usual for domestic violence and emotional abuse to develop worse. If this happens to you, it’s critical that you contact someone right once to ensure that both you and your kid are safe. Consult your healthcare practitioner about ways to improve your situation. You can also text START to 88788 or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233).
Women who have experienced physical or sexual abuse in the past are more likely to be depressed during pregnancy. It’s critical to seek help from a mental health expert if you’ve experienced abuse in the past. Ask your primary care doctor or OB-GYN for a referral if you aren’t already seeing a therapist.
Will having depression during pregnancy affect my baby?
If you don’t get help for your pregnant depression, it can make it more difficult to take care of yourself. You may be less likely to eat well or get enough sleep, and you may be more prone to smoke, drink, or use other drugs. This, in turn, can have an impact on not just your own but also your baby’s health and well-being.
Untreated depression during pregnancy has been associated to an increased risk of a baby being born prematurely or with a low birth weight, as well as other health issues. Babies born to mothers who are depressed are more likely to be irritable and cry more than babies born to mothers who are not depressed, according to research. Children may be more vulnerable to emotional, developmental, and behavioural difficulties later in life.
Treatment options for pregnancy depression
One of the most prevalent pregnancy issues is depression, so talk to your doctor about it. Your physician is likely to inquire about your mood and how you’re feeling during your prenatal sessions. If she doesn’t, make sure she knows about it.
It’s difficult to talk about mental health difficulties, and it’s tempting to believe you’re the only one who feels this way. Your provider, on the other hand, is likely to see a lot of other ladies going through the same thing. Remind yourself that she is there to assist you, not to pass judgement.
To assist you manage pregnant depression, there are two major treatment options: psychotherapy and medication, which can be used alone or in combination.
During pregnancy, talk therapy can assist you in recognising and addressing probable reasons of depression. Sessions can be one-on-one, in a group setting, or with your partner.
During pregnancy, a variety of psychotherapy techniques are used, including:
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that focuses on identifying and changing harmful thinking and behaviour patterns. CBT has been found to increase quality of life and be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety.
Psychodynamic therapy is a type of therapy that employs self-reflection to help you understand the reasons of emotional pain and change troublesome behaviours in your life.
Interpersonal therapy can be especially helpful during pregnancy because it teaches you how to cope with the various life changes that come with becoming a parent.
It’s understandable if you’re worried about taking medicine while pregnant. Your doctor will balance the benefits and hazards of medication for you and your baby and explain them to you so you can make an informed treatment decision.
The dangers of taking an antidepressant while pregnant are minor and vary based on the medicine, dosage, and length of use. The majority of evidence supports that taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy is safe and does not raise the risk of birth abnormalities.
If you use antidepressants while pregnant, your baby may develop withdrawal symptoms after birth. Breathing difficulties, jitteriness and irritability, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and difficulty feeding are all possible symptoms.
If you were taking medication for depression or another mental health illness before becoming pregnant, don’t stop without first consulting your doctor. Stopping abruptly could be dangerous for both you and your baby. If you’re worried about the medication’s safety during pregnancy, speak with your doctor about the best option for you and your baby.
Are there other ways I can manage my depression during pregnancy?
When you’re depressed, it’s difficult to cope with the physical, hormonal, and emotional changes that come with pregnancy. The best course of action is to speak with your doctor and develop a treatment plan that works for you. The following suggestions can also assist you in coping with depression while pregnant.
Take care of yourself. Put self-care at the top of your to-do list because it’s an important component of caring for your baby. Make time to read a book, eat breakfast in bed, soak in a hot bath, or take lengthy walks around your neighbourhood.
Spend time with folks you don’t know. Relationships with your partner, friends, and family should be nurtured.
Become a member of a support group. Make friends with other mothers, particularly those who are dealing with depression during pregnancy. Request local resources from your doctor, or use MOPS International or the National Parent Helpline to locate a support group near you.
Continue to be active. Whether it’s a prenatal yoga session, a trip to the gym, or a stroll around the block, try to get some physical activity in every day (but make sure you have your practitioner’s OK before starting a new exercise plan). According to research, even tiny amounts of physical activity can help alleviate melancholy and anxiety symptoms by generating feel-good brain chemicals and diverting your attention away from your troubles.
Eat healthily. Consume a variety of fresh foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, low-fat meat and poultry, fish, and whole grains. Reduce your intake of processed and sugary meals.
Make rest a priority. While getting a good night’s sleep is more difficult than ever during pregnancy, sleep is essential for your health and welfare. When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely to develop anxiety and sadness. When feasible, get to bed early, establish a relaxing night ritual, and invest in a comfortable pregnancy pillow.
Make a list of realistic priorities. Avoid the temptation to take on too many tasks before the baby arrives. You may believe that cleaning the house or doing a lot of extra work is required before going on maternity leave, but this is not the case.
Make a request for assistance. Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of your partner, family, or friends to complete the duties at hand.
How to find help and why it’s so important
If you’re depressed, it may be difficult to get to your prenatal checkups, which means you won’t get the care you and your baby require. This can set off a downward spiral, increasing your chances of being diagnosed with PPD once your kid is born. That’s why, no matter how painful it may be, it’s critical to seek treatment as soon as possible.
If you’re having trouble managing your daily obligations or have suicidal thoughts, contact your provider right away. They can refer you to a mental health professional. Your health insurer may also be able to provide you with a list of doctors who accept your plan.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of mental health providers, give them a call and ask them some basic questions about their education and experience, as well as what you may expect from sessions. Check to see if you’re comfortable working with this person, and if you’re not, don’t be afraid to look for someone else.
Mental health treatment can be costly, costing up to $100 per hour without insurance. If you’re having trouble paying for counselling, see if the therapist has a sliding scale (meaning they’ll alter their fees based on your income). You could also be able to get low-cost or even free treatment at a federally funded health facility near you, or from a graduate student in a nearby college or university’s mental health department.
Don’t try to deal with depression and pregnancy on your own. Seeking assistance does not imply that you are a weak person. It demonstrates that you’re willing to go to any length to keep yourself and your child safe and healthy. The best approach to stay healthy during your pregnancy and afterwards is to stick to a tailored treatment plan, whether it’s talk therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.
What can a pregnant person take for depression?
These antidepressants are generally safe to take during pregnancy: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs, such as citalopram (Celexa) and sertraline, are generally considered safe to use during pregnancy (Zoloft).
How can I improve my mental health while pregnant?
Take time each day to relax, rest, and sleep well—nap if necessary. Be realistic in your expectations of yourself. Talk to someone you trust about your thoughts and feelings, such as your partner, family, friends, or a health care provider. Eat nutritious foods at regular intervals.
Is depression a side effect of pregnancy?
Women are more susceptible to depression during pregnancy and in the weeks and months following childbirth. Hormone changes during pregnancy can affect brain chemicals, causing depression and anxiety. Pregnant women may be unaware that they are depressed.
How can I control my emotions during pregnancy?
However, there are steps you can take to help mitigate the effects of these shifts, which may alleviate — or at the very least, reduce — crying spells.
– Make sure you get enough rest. Sleep deprivation can raise your stress levels and make you irritable.
– Maintain a healthy level of physical activity.
– Talk to other pregnant women or moms.
– Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.