Depression During Pregnancy
We often hear words like postpartum depression or the baby blues, which occurs shortly after the birth of a baby, but we don’t hear as much about depression that occurs during pregnancy which is termed as prenatal depression. An estimated 14 to 23 percent of women experience symptoms of depression during pregnancy.
Why Does Depression Occur During Pregnancy?
1. Hormones – Research has shown that hormones affect the areas of our brains that control mood and the difference in hormonal levels during pregnancy may trigger depression in some women. Moreover, hormones are often blamed for many of the mood swings and other emotional and psychological happenings during pregnancy.
2. Stress – Sometimes the stress of pregnancy results in symptoms of depression, even when the pregnancy was planned. Moreover, these feelings might intensify if the pregnancy is complicated or unplanned. If life itself is stressful, for instance, you have financial difficulties or relationship issues, this can also lead to depression. Sometimes this might mean career changes for one or both parents too.
3. Trauma – Having a history of trauma or abuse may also trigger prenatal depression.
4. Previous Depression – If a woman was diagnosed with depression prior to pregnancy, the risk of depression during pregnancy is higher, compared to women who have never had depression.
5. Family History – If depression runs in the family, there is a higher risk of prenatal depression.
What is the treatment available?
1. Support network – Developing a support network is extremely valuable. Being surrounded by supportive individuals can be beneficial, particularly, if they have experienced the same feelings.
2. Counseling – Talking to a professional counselor or therapist can also be very helpful since there are many major changes that occur during pregnancy.
3. Medication – Antidepressants can be used during pregnancy under the care of a practitioner who has experience in using antidepressants and other medications during the course of pregnancy and breastfeeding. Around 13 percent of women take antidepressants during their pregnancies.
The key to preventing problems that arise from prenatal depression, is getting the support and help needed as soon as it is realized that you are experiencing it. With many pregnant women having depressive symptoms, it is important to recognize that you are not alone, and that help is available. Talk to your doctor or midwife if you are in need of help or reach out to other organizations. Getting treatment is the best gift you can give yourself and your growing baby.