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Depression During Pregnancy: You Don’t Have To Deal With It Alone!

While pregnancy can be an exciting time, many women experience fear and confusion during this period of their life. Hormonal changes and stress are some of the triggers for this mood disorder. If you’re suffering from depression during pregnancy, it’s advisable to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Depression During Pregnancy: What Is It?

Depression during pregnancy, or antepartum depression, is a mood disorder which is characterized by intense negative emotions over an extended period. People who are suffering from depression may have persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, which has a negative impact on their quality of life. This mood disorder is accompanied by alterations to your brain chemistry. Expectant mothers are at risk for developing mood disorders because of the hormone changes that take place during pregnancy.

Signs and Symptoms

It’s important to know what the symptoms of depression during pregnancy are. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to consult with a mental health professional so that you can get the support that you need. Expectant mothers, who are faced with persistent sadness for more than two weeks, may be suffering from depression. Anxiety and feelings of worthlessness are also possible signs of a mood disorder. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, it’s important that you get help immediately. Other possible indicators of depression during pregnancy are insomnia or sleeping too much as well as the inability to concentrate. Feelings of apathy towards the activities that usually bring you joy is another symptom to look out for.

Statistics

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists asserts that 14% to 23% of women will struggle with aspects of depression before they give birth. Also, one in 4 women struggle with this mood disorder at some stage of their life. Despite the pervasiveness of depression, many pregnant women are incorrectly diagnosed because their symptoms are attributed to hormonal imbalances. It’s important for expectant mothers to be properly diagnosed so that they can get the necessary support.

Risk Factors for Depression During Pregnancy

Expectant mothers, who have a history of anxiety and depression, are at an increased risk for suffering from mood disorders during pregnancy. Stress can also trigger the onset of symptoms that are associated with depression. Lack of social support and unintended pregnancy can increase the chances of an expectant mother for experiencing depression. Intimate partner violence is another trigger. If you are suffering from intimate partner violence it is vital for you to get help so that you can be certain of your own safety and get protection for your baby.

Complications of Antepartum Depression

It’s essential to get treatment if you’re suffering from antepartum depression as it can have negative consequences for your own well-being and that of your baby. This mood disorder may interfere with your prenatal care as well as your ability to care for yourself properly. If you suffer from a mood disorder during your pregnancy, there’s also a greater chance that you’ll struggle with postpartum depression. Feelings of persistent sadness after you give birth (the postpartum period) can make it very challenging for you to bond with your baby.

First Line Treatments

If you suspect that you’re suffering from depression during pregnancy, consult with your mental health professional to determine which treatment option is the best for you. Therapy and support groups are the preferred option for many women who are suffering from a mood disorder.

Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective in finding relief from the symptoms of mood disorders. Interpersonal psychotherapy has also had good results in the treatment of depression.

Medication

Expectant mothers, who are considering taking medication, need to work closely with their healthcare professional. Make sure that you know the advantages and risks of the medicine before you take it. Research each option with the help of a medical professional to determine which medication poses the lowest risk of harm to your baby.

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy involves passing a low-level electrical current through the brain. ECT comes with the risk of side effects such as nausea and pain. It is used only as a last resort for women who are suffering from severe depression.

Support Groups

Lack of support is a risk factor for depression during pregnancy. Joining a group of women who are also struggling with this mood disorder can help you to feel supported during this difficult time.

Depression During Pregnancy

Additional Treatment Options

Less intense treatment options are generally preferred for treating depression during pregnancy. With guidance from your mental health professional, you can try other strategies to find relief from the symptoms of this mood disorder.

Regular Physical Activity

Exercise helps to give your brain a boost of serotonin, which can elevate your mood. Not only does getting your body moving promote happiness, but it also reduces stress.

Good Quality Sleep

If you’re sleep deprived, you may find it more difficult to cope with challenging situations. Getting a good night’s sleep supports your mind and body so that it’s easier to handle stress in your daily life.

Diet and Nutrition

Eating healthy food is essential as many junk foods can have a negative impact on your mood. Avoiding caffeine as well as sugar can be beneficial for your emotional and physical well-being. Other foods to eliminate from your diet include processed carbohydrates as well as artificial additives.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Studies show that Omega 3 can help to promote health. Not only can Omega 3 boost your overall health, but it may also help to offer you relief from low moods. As with any supplements, check with your health care provider before taking it.

Mindfulness Practices

Meditation is used to promote relaxation and decrease stress. This technique can be used to alleviate the symptoms of mood disorders. Yoga can also play a role in the treatment of depression.

The Risks of Not Getting Help

If you don’t get help, depression can have negative consequences for you and your baby. Untreated depression can result in self-medicating with alcohol or cigarettes, which puts your baby at risk for developmental challenges. Moreover, smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy can result in preterm birth. Another risk of untreated depression is suicidal behavior, which can put both you and your baby in harm’s way. Untreated depression during pregnancy may also result in babies who are less active and more agitated.

Find a Therapist Now!

If you’re struggling with depression during pregnancy, find a therapist now! At Thrivetalk, we’ll put you in touch with fully accredited mental health practitioners who are available to help you through the unique struggles you may be facing during pregnancy.

Understanding depression is the first step towards finding the right treatment. Once you’ve identified that you’re struggling with the symptoms of this mood disorder, you can get the support that you need to recover your emotional well-being.

About The Author Jenna-Lee Strugnell
 

Jenna-Lee Strugnell holds Honors in Psychology from Rhodes University as well as a BA in Psychology and English. She is the founder and director of the non-profit organization, Tales of Turning, which uses narrative therapy to support mothers in under-resourced communities. Jenna-Lee has training in narrative therapy, counseling, brain gym, applied behavior analysis and social entrepreneurship. She is dedicated to combining her passion for psychology with her love of writing to produce informative content for therapeutic contexts as well as for the non-profit sector. Blog: https://talesofturning.co.za/blog-page/

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