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Depression in Pregnancy

by Guest
Posted July 5 2010 03:16pm
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While pregnancy may be a happy time for women, it’s a myth that pregnant women do not become depressed. However, this myth can prevent women from talking about her feelings or from finding help for it because they are ashamed. Women should talk to their partner, doctor or midwife about this as soon as they sense it is happening to them.

If a pregnant woman says she is feeling down or depressed, it is important for her, and those around her, to pay attention. If these down feelings are combined with constant sadness or losing interest in the things she normally does, she is clearly showing some of the warning signs of depression. Studies show that about 15% of pregnant women experience major or moderate depression during pregnancy.

Keep in mind that if a woman has had a depression before becoming pregnant or has a relative who has faced a depression, she may be more prone to a serious depression during her pregnancy.

Mood swings, fatigue, and trouble eating and sleeping can be typical at certain times in many women's pregnancies. However, they are also signs of depression in pregnancy if they continue for longer than what is normally expected. Other signs of depression are:

  • Always feeling sad.
  • Feelings of despair, guilt and of being worthless.
  • Thinking often about death or suicide; not being able to concentrate or do the things she ordinarily does.
  • A change in eating habits more or less that than what is normally expected in pregnancy.
  • Not being able to sleep or wanting to sleep a lot.

Pregnant women who are depressed are more likely to slide into unhealthy practices, just when healthy practices are needed most. For example, women may skip their regular prenatal check-ups, or they may not eat well or rest enough or use substances such as tobacco or drugs. All of these can lead to having the baby too early or to the baby not being a healthy weight when born.

It is important for a pregnant woman to talk to her doctor or midwife about depressive feelings or signs. In many cases, it is helpful if her partner goes along to this appointment because he needs to be part of the treatment plan. She can sometimes treat minor depression by doing things like eating well, getting regular exercise, making sure she gets enough sleep and deals with her stress (through relaxation exercises, yoga, etc.). If her doctor thinks the depression is serious, medication may be prescribed. In such a case, she will want to discuss with her doctor and pharmacist all the side effects and implications for her mental health and the baby's development.

Many herbal products, including St. John's Wort, have not yet been studied carefully for their effects on pregnant women. Mom should not take any herbal products without first consulting with her doctor, pharmacist or the Motherisk Clinic.

About 25% of women who are depressed during their pregnancy will have what is called a "postpartum depression," which is a depression after the baby is born.

It’s normal for a woman to feel a little sad or anxious in the first two weeks after the baby is born. Everyone should pay attention and help during this period. If she has constant or signs and symptoms of depression, there is cause for concern. Both parents should speak to her doctor or midwife about this to determine how to treat the depressive symptoms. Depression is easier to treat if it is caught early before the With symptoms become deeply rooted.

If a mother is depressed during baby’s first year of life, it can make it difficult for her to become emotionally attached to baby and vice versa. Fathers and others need to ensure she gets the help she needs for her depression. Dads may also need to step in and help her relate to the baby in whatever way she can while she recovers. Dads also need to give extra loving care and stimulation to the baby to keep baby's development on track.

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