Depression During Pregnancy

image001While pregnancy is one of the happiest times in any woman’s life, studies by the ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) have shown that 14% to 23% of women globally struggle with symptoms of depression during pregnancy. However, this mood problem is not properly diagnosed especially during pregnancy because most people just assume that it is part of hormonal changes taking place in the pregnant woman. If this problem goes untreated, it could be dangerous to both the unborn baby and the mother. Read on to learn what is causing your depression during pregnancy and what the warning signs are.

What Causes Depression During Pregnancy?

There was a time when pregnancy and the hormones it comes with were thought to give women protection against depression. However, all that has changed and now it is actually thought that these hormones contribute to depression.

The strains and stresses that come with pregnancy, more so if you already have a child in your care, can cause depression. Also, if you have money worries or relationship difficulties, you are vulnerable to depression. Other more common causes of depression include:

Possible Causes

Why It Leads to Depression

Low income

Lack of enough qualifications and unemployment both play a role in contributing to antenatal depression. If you already have children you are looking after and also have low income, being pregnant can add to your worries.

Stressful events

Life changes like a job loss, divorce or moving homes can also cause depression.

Pregnancy problems

Having a problematic pregnancy like one that is marred by serious morning sickness tends to take an emotional toll on the woman and this could lead to depression. What’s more, if you do not plan on getting pregnant at that specific time in your life, it could contribute to the feelings that may lead to depression.

Previous birth or pregnancy complications

If you have had a previous experience with childbirth and/or pregnancy, then it can affect your feelings towards this specific pregnancy.

Miscarriage or infertility

If you have had difficulty getting pregnant or even miscarried, worrying about the safety of the current pregnancy is normal. However, that worry can also cause depression.

Emotional or physical abuse

Unfortunately, there are times when pregnancy triggers domestic abuse. If you are a victim of this abuse, there is a high likelihood that you will suffer from depression during and after you have given birth.

History of depression

 

If you have previous history of anxiety, depression or some other mental illness you are more likely to suffer from depression when pregnant. There is even some likelihood that you will still suffer from depression a year after your baby is born.

How to Know You Are Depressed During Pregnancy

About 1 in 10 women suffer from depression during pregnancy. Most of the times, people assume that being sad when pregnant is part of the moodiness that comes with being pregnant, but this is not always the case. Depression can be a serious problem if it is not detected early and treated.

Depression can affect you physically and emotionally and sometimes even alters a person’s behavior. If you suffer from depression, you will likely:

  • Find it hard to concentrate
  • Are anxious most of the time
  • Are restless and short-tempered
  • Have difficulty sleeping
  • Have constant and extreme fatigue
  • Are constantly preoccupied with negative thoughts
  • Have no appetite or want to eat every minute
  • Do not find fun or enjoy anything (even things you previously found to be fun and enjoyable).
  • Feel helpless and weepy

How to Treat Depression During Pregnancy

1. Take Things Easy

Try as much as you can not to prepare too much before the baby arrives. You may think that you need to clean the house, prepare the baby’s clothes, set up the nursery and do other chores before the baby arrives, but you really don’t have to do it all at once especially when in the last trimester. Try and take it easy because once the baby arrives, you will not have much time for yourself. So, have breakfast in bed, take a book and read, or even take a long walk. Try doing something that makes you feel at ease.

2. Spend Quality Time with Your Spouse

Spend as much time as you can with your spouse to nature your relationship. If possible, take a vacation and do any other things that might strengthen the relationship. That way, you will be able to rely on that bond when the little one arrives.

3. Talk to People

If you have worries or fears, do not bottle them up. Instead, talk it out with your family, friends and partner.

4. Manage Stress

You should never let your frustrations build up. Find easy ways that help you manage your stress. Get lots of sleep, eat well, exercise and even take breaks. If anxiety seems to creep in, try yoga classes for pregnant women.

5. Get Enough Rest

Lack of adequate sleep has been known to greatly affect the mind and body’s ability to handle the challenges and stress faced on a daily basis. You should, therefore, establish a routine schedule for sleeping such that you will be sleeping and waking up at the same time.

6. Exercise

You should try exercising even if you would rather not. While you should not try a full-on fitness regimen when expectant, exercise actually helps to lift a bad mood. Pregnancy yoga, aquanatal classes, walking, and swimming are safe to do when pregnant.

7. Maintain Healthy Nutrition and Diet

There are many foods that have been found to affect the ability to handle stress, mood changes and mental clarity. Diets that are high in processed carbohydrates, sugar, artificial additives, caffeine and low protein levels in body all lead to issues that affect your physical and mental health. Fuel your body with foods that will make you feel better.

8. Try Acupuncture

This is a Chinese practice that involves placing small needles in areas of the body that are known to influence your mood. This practice has also been known to treat depression even in pregnant women.

9. Counseling or Therapy

If you have joined a support group and find that it is not helping you, you should try counseling or therapy. Ask your midwife or doctor for a referral for a therapist like cognitive behavioral therapist, counseling or problem solving therapist. If the depression is severe, your GP will be able to fast-track you so that you will be able to get help soonest possible.

You can go ahead and click the following video to relieve your anxiety and depression by listening to soothing music:

Do I Need to Take Medications for Depression During Pregnancy?

Many people take antidepressants to treat depression. However, it is still not quite clear whether they should be taken during pregnancy. Some researches have found that there are some depression medications that might harm a newborn baby if taken during pregnancy. They might cause low birth weight, pulmonary hypertension, heart problems and even physical malformations. If your depression is mild or moderate, you can manage it with light therapy, psychotherapy and support groups. If the depression is severe, a combination of medication and psychotherapy is normally recommended. You need to know that any medication taken reaches your baby. This is why you need to go with the medication that will offer you help and has the least risk to your baby.