PregnancyMama Demystifies
Depression during Pregnancy

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Depression during pregnancy overshadows the excitement and joy that usually characterize the journey and may have a strong implication and complication on the expecting mom and her baby . It’s long been believed that depression and other psychological issues often occurred after delivery due to abrupt withdrawal of pregnancy hormones, which are usually protective against depression, anxiety and such like.

Latest research has proven that sudden and abrupt rise in the level of reproductive hormones in pregnancy leads to such alteration in the brain chemistry that can give rise to depression, anxiety and other similar psychological issues in expecting moms. Depression during pregnancy is a fairly common issue and varying degree of depression is reported in 10% of all pregnant women. However, very few depressed expecting moms seek medical assistance, perhaps because most cases of depression during pregnancy are generally attributed to mood swings symptom of pregnancy.

What are some important risk factors for depression during pregnancy?

Although, there is no general rule and virtually any woman can experience depression in pregnancy. Few of the established risk factors are highlighted as follows:

  • Prior history of psychiatric illness or positive family history of depression.
  • Recent break-up or single parents are also significant risk factors.
  • Women who conceive after fertility treatment or who have prior history of miscarriage.
  • Risk of developing depression increases significantly if the woman is exposed to any stressful event within the window of conception, including parental loss, unemployment or serious medical or surgical illness in any close relative.

What are the significant symptoms of depression during pregnancy?

Severity of symptoms varies throughout the pregnancy. In order to establish the diagnosis of depression, at least 3 or more symptoms from the under-listed must be present for 2 or more weeks:

  • Persistent feeling of low mood, frequent crying spells, feeling of sadness or emptiness.
  • Changes in the normal pattern of sleep (that may be excessive sleepiness or no sleep at all).
  • Inability to concentrate, loss of interest in normal daily activities or extreme irritability.
  • Changes in normal eating pattern (excessive eating or no appetite at all).
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment or hopelessness.

A few expecting moms may also experience symptoms of bipolar disorder, which is marked by alternating episodes of depression followed by episodes of mania, which is marked by extreme feeling of being happy, contented, lively and full of energy. Bipolar disorders make the diagnosis of depression more controversial and treatment more difficult.

When should one see her doctor on depression while pregnant?

You must see a doctor if the warning signs of depression persist despite an active attempt to engage yourself in other activities or you’re under any of the following conditions:

  • If your symptoms begin to affect your health or pose a risk to the health of your baby.
  • If you’re having any feeling to do something that may endanger your life or the life of your baby.
  • If you’re having frequent panic attacks marked by racing heart, shortness of breath, palpitations, feeling of passing out or profuse sweating.

What can I do to prevent depression during pregnancy?

Anxiety, depression and panic states are normal physiological reactions to normal life stressors. However, if these symptoms are allowed to go unchecked, severe complications are likely consequences. Depression can be prevented by following simple tips throughout your pregnancy.

  • Relaxation techniques are very helpful in avoiding depression. Although, your life may become very different after conception and you may not be able to enjoy your hobbies as much as you do before getting pregnant, it’s always advisable to engage yourself in some sort of mental or physical activity like gardening, reading, writing or sewing.
  • Don’t think pregnancy is a state of disease. Enjoy this period with your friends and family as much as you do before becoming pregnant. Through small kitty parties and participating in social gatherings with your friends.
  • Don’t stress yourself with domestic chores or workplace responsibilities and be a little easy on yourself. Develop a healthy bonding with your partner and seek his assistance in daily chores, instead of overburdening yourself.
  • Regular exercise has also been proven to decrease your risk of developing depression during pregnancy. Exercise releases some endorphins that can drive your spirits in good mood.
  • Talk it out! Vent out the feeling of depression by sharing with your partner, parents, friends, loved ones, other expecting moms and your doctor.
  • Eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as walnuts, chicken, crab, shrimp, oily fish, mackerel etc.) has proven to lower the risk of depression in pregnancy, even postpartum depression. Your healthcare provider is in the best position to recommend you safe omega-3 supplements and the right dosage as may be considered necessary.
  • Lastly, learning hypnosis and using it as a tool for getting rid of emotional illnesses such as depression in pregnancy has been reported helpful. It's about unleashing the power of Your Mind to solve problems. For more information and help, please visit: Health and Beauty Treatments

What can be I do to treat depression during pregnancy?

It’s normal to feel occasionally sad but if sadness persists and doesn’t go away, please report it to your healthcare provider and ask for help. If depression during pregnancy is diagnosed and appropriately treated, it goes a long way to prevent postpartum depression.

Consulting your healthcare provider is the best option to know the exact cause of depression and what anti-depressants or anti-depressive remedies are safe for you during pregnancy.

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