Pregnancy is touted as a time of great joy and cheer for you. However, you should know that 1 out of 10 women also suffers from depression during pregnancy. This is mood disorder due to the changes in the brain chemistry. It is a form of clinical depression. It is known as antenatal or prenatal depression.
Earlier it was assumed that the surge of hormones during pregnancy protected you from depression and you were susceptible to it only postpartum. But now it has been found that these very hormones can affect the brain chemistry enough to cause depression. If left undiagnosed it can act as a precursor to postnatal depression as well.
The problem is that women often dismiss their emotional problems, assuming that pregnancy is the cause of all the moodiness. But your emotional health is as important as your physical health and it is important that you talk to your doctor about it.
If you are suffering from one or more of the following symptoms for two weeks or more, then maybe you should talk to your doctor about depression-
- Persistent sadness accompanied by morbid thoughts.
- Loss of appetite and interest in activities that you usually enjoy.
- Lack of concentration.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Anxiety accompanied by feeling of guilt or worthlessness.
What could be the triggers for this depression? It is important to identify them as they need to be dealt with.
- History of depression in the family.
- Relationship problems, past stressful events that cause sadness.
- History of abuse or trauma.
- Infertility treatments.
Also, understand the way this can affect your health and your baby’s birth.
- If you are depressed, chances are that you will not take care of yourself.
- This means poor nutrition and bad health for you and your baby. This could create developmental concerns for your baby.
- The stress could lead to premature delivery.
- The baby could be born with low birth weight.
- The baby born to a mother undergoing depression is likely to be more agitated, less active and show less attention than babies born to mothers who are not depressed.
That is why diagnosis and treatment of prenatal depression at the right time is so important. So please seek help. Acknowledge that this is an illness and seek treatment. So what are the non medicine options that can be used to treat depression?
- Private psychotherapy
- Light therapy
If you are undergoing moderate depression, then this could be enough to alleviate your symptoms. However, in the case of severe depression, you will need to go on medication.
- But you need to know that these medicines will cross the placenta and reach your baby. There is not enough research as to which drugs are safe for your baby. Some of these drugs can cause physical malformations, pulmonary hypertension, heart problems and low birth weight.
- But while treating major depression the risks and benefits need to be weighed simultaneously. The medication that can offer the best help with minimum risk to the baby should be considered.
- Usually, a collaborative treatment that combines therapy, psychotherapy and medication is recommended for severe depression.
Do know that it is a temporary condition induced by the surge of hormones in your body. Your doctor can be the best judge. Bring your concerns to them as early as possible.