What Are Some Of The Signs Of Depression During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body goes through many changes. You may experience a lot of different emotions throughout pregnancy sometimes carrying you up the emotional roller coaster, and sometimes down. Its okay to feel all of these different emotions. However, if you find youre having any of the following symptoms during your pregnancy, it could be depression and you should reach out to your healthcare provider right away. Signs of depression during pregnancy can include:
- Having recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
- Having a depressed mood for most of the day, nearly early day, for the last two weeks.
- Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless.
- Having difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions.
- Losing interest or pleasure in most activities during the day, nearly every day, for the last two weeks.
If you have any of the above symptoms your provider may ask you the following questions:
- Over the past two weeks, have you felt down, depressed or hopeless?
- Over the past two weeks, have you felt little interest or pleasure in doing things?
If you answer yes to either of these questions, your healthcare provider will ask you more questions during a more in-depth depression screening test.
Depression During Pregnancy Isnt Something You Can Just Shake Off
According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and The American Psychiatric Association , between 14 and 23 percent of women will experience some symptoms of depression during pregnancy. But misconceptions about perinatal depression depression during pregnancy and after childbirth can make it tough for women to get the answers they need, says Dr. Gabby Farkas, a New York-based therapist who specializes in reproductive mental health issues.
Patients tell us all the time that their family members tell them to shake it off and get themselves together, Farkas says. Society at large thinks that pregnancy and having the baby is the happiest period of a womans life and thats the only way to experience this. When in fact, women experience a whole spectrum of emotions during this time.
How To Help Your Wife Or Partner
Encourage her to talk about her feelings. Listen to her without judging or offering solutions. Instead of trying to fix things, simply be there for her to lean on.
Offer help around the house. Chip in with the housework and childcare responsibilities. Dont wait for her to ask!
Make sure she takes time for herself. Rest and relaxation are important. Encourage her to take breaks, hire a babysitter, or schedule some date nights.
Be patient if shes not ready for sex. Depression affects sex drive, so it may be a while before shes in the mood. Offer her physical affection, but dont push if shes not up for sex.
Go for a walk with her. Getting exercise can make a big dent in depression, but its hard to get motivated when youre feeling low. Help her by making walks a daily ritual for the two of you.
Anna Glezer, M.D. is a Harvard-trained clinician with joint appointments in the reproductive psychiatry and OB/GYN departments at UCSF Medical Center. She is the founder of Mind Body Pregnancy.
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Depression During Pregnancy And After
For too many women, joyfully anticipated pregnancy and motherhood bring depression as an unexpected accompaniment. Children as well as mothers suffer. Depression during pregnancy may result in poor prenatal care, premature delivery, low birth weight, and, just possibly, depression in the child. Depression after childbirth can lead to child neglect, family breakdown, and suicide. A depressed mother may fail to bond emotionally with her newborn, raising the child’s risk of later cognitive delays and emotional and behavior problems. Fortunately, if the depression is detected soon enough, help is available for mother and child.
How Does Depression Affect Pregnant Women
If you have depression while youre pregnant, you may have trouble caring for yourself.
Depression during pregnancy can also lead to:
- delivering before the due date ,
- giving birth to a small baby .
If depression during pregnancy isnt treated, it can lead to postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a serious condition that can last for months after giving birth. It can affect your health and how well you bond with your baby.
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What Is Prenatal Depression
Prenatal depression is a mood disorder that affects 10 to 25 percent of expectant women, and research shows it may be becoming even more prevalent. Fluctuations in hormones throughout pregnancy can lead to mood swings, of course, but prenatal depression is more than passing feelings of sadness or stress. Instead, these emotions are persistent, intense and even debilitating.
Prenatal depression can also set new moms up for future mental health complications. Women who are suffering from depression during pregnancy may go on, during pregnancy or after delivery, to have more severe postpartum depression and should be monitored closely, says Amanda Itzkoff, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
What Is Antenatal Depression
Antenatal depression is when you feel sad all the time for weeks or months during your pregnancy. The condition can vary from mild to severe and can affect women in different ways.
Some women have depression after having a baby. This is called postnatal depression.
Pregnancy can be a very emotional experience and it can sometimes be difficult to know whether your feelings are manageable or a sign of something more serious. Pregnancy hormones can affect your emotions, you may also have difficulty sleeping and you may be feeling sick. This can all make you feel low.
Trust yourself. You are the best judge of whether your feelings are normal for you. Talk to your midwife or GP if you think you have any symptoms of depression and they last for more than two weeks.
Depression is a mental health condition and not a sign of weakness, something that will go away on its own or that you should just snap out of. Depression can be treated with the right care and support.
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Talking To Your Health Care Provider About Your Mental Health
Communicating well with your health care provider can improve your care and help you both make good choices about your health. Read our Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit. For additional resources, including questions to ask a provider, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
How Can I Get Help
If you feel anxious or depressed, talk to a doctor, counselor, or therapist, and get help right away. The sooner treatment starts, the sooner you’ll feel better.
Also talk to a doctor about your overall health and any mental health issues you’ve had in the past. It’s best for your doctor to know your full medical history, in case anything comes up during or after your pregnancy.
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What Causes Depression During Pregnancy
No one knows for sure, and depression is far from a guaranteed side effect of pregnancy. But it’s a pretty sure bet that those raging hormones play a significant role.
Hormones directly affect the brain chemistry that controls emotions and mood. Those same hormonal fluctuations that wreak premenstrual emotional havoc can lead to prenatal depression.
In fact, research has found that women who suffer from pronounced PMS are at greater risk for depression during pregnancy.
Genetics may play a role too. Depression tends to run in families. If anyone in your family has a history of depression or any other mood disorder, youre more susceptible to experiencing it too.
Add in one or more of the risk factors like those mentioned above, and you have all the potential ingredients for a case of depression.
In short, depression during pregnancy is usually the result of a combination of factors, not all of which are fully understood.
What is known is that depression doesnt happen because a woman did something wrong, and moms-to-be arent to blame for these emotional valleys. The important thing is understanding your risk factors, knowing the signs that you could be depressed, and seeking help when you need it.
Can Depression During Pregnancy Be Prevented
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says that certain kinds of counseling can prevent perinatal depression for women at increased risk of depression. Counseling is when you talk about your feelings and concerns with a counselor or therapist. This person helps you understand your feelings, solve problems and cope with things in your everyday life.
The Task Force recommends counseling for women who have one or more of these risk factors:
- Current signs and symptoms of depression
- A history of depression or other mental health condition
- Being pregnant as a teenager or being a single mom
- Having stressful life circumstances, like low income
- Being a victim of IPV
The Task Force recommends two kinds of counseling to prevent depression for women at increased risk:
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Frequently Asked Questions Expand All
- What is depression?
Depression is a common illness that can be mild or very serious. It is more than feeling sad or upset for a short time or feeling grief after a loss. Depression changes your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and physical health. It affects how you function in your daily life. It can also affect how you relate to your family, friends, and coworkers. Depression can occur at different times of life or in different situations.
- How common is depression during pregnancy?
Depression is common during pregnancy, affecting about 1 in 10 pregnant women. Some women have depression and anxiety for the first time in their lives during pregnancy or after delivery.
- What are the signs of depression during pregnancy?
The signs of depression can seem like the normal ups and downs of pregnancy. A blue mood now and then is normal. But its important to know the signs of depression. Talk with your obstetriciangynecologist if you have any of these signs for at least 2 weeks:
Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
Loss of interest in work or other activities
Feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless
Sleeping more than normal or having trouble sleeping
Loss of appetite, losing weight, or eating much more than normal and gaining weight
Feeling very tired or without energy
Having trouble paying attention, concentrating, or making decisions
Being restless or slowed down in a way that others notice
Thinking about death or suicide
Taking Care Of Your Mental Health During Pregnancy
Pregnancy brings a mix of feelings, and not all of them are good. If you’re feeling worried, you’re not alone. Worry is common, especially during a woman’s first pregnancy or an unplanned one. It can be even harder if you’re dealing with depression or anxiety.
For your health and your baby’s, take care of yourself as much as you can. Be sure to eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and take your prenatal vitamins.
If you’re feeling worried, sad, or nervous, talk to someone about it and know when to reach out for help.
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How Is Depression During Pregnancy Treated
Antepartum depression can be successfully treated using standard treatments for major depression. These treatments include:
- Counseling or therapy, including specific techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy
- Brain stimulation therapies, such as electroconvulsive therapy , in which a low-level electrical current is passed through the brain although a review of case studies, published in the Archives of Womens Mental Health, recommends using ECT only as a last resort
Prescription antidepressants offer benefits to both the mother and her child that need to be balanced carefully against their risks.
Although research findings have been mixed, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force review of the scientific evidence suggests that antidepressant use during pregnancy could be associated with a small increase in the risk of serious harm to infants. Pregnant women should discuss the pros and cons of treatment with a particular antidepressant medication with their doctors.
While some pregnant women experience such severe depression that antidepressants are essential, for women with milder forms of depression, counseling or therapy can be an effective option.
Interpersonal psychotherapy which focuses on exploring a persons relationships, identifying problems in those relationships, and improving interpersonal skills was also shown to be effective in treating depression.
With additional reporting by Pamela Kaufman.
Depression In New Mothers
Having a baby is stressfulno matter how much youve looked forward to it or how much you love your child. Considering the sleep deprivation, new responsibilities, and lack of time for yourself, its no surprise that a lot of new moms feel like theyre on an emotional rollercoaster.
In fact, mild depression and mood swings are so common in new mothers that it has its own name: the baby blues.
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Can A Lack Of Sleep Cause Postpartum Depression
While there are many factors at play, it does appear that sleep deprivation can exacerbate symptoms of postpartum depression. This is true for both parents, with research suggesting that both the mothers and the fathers of young babies are more likely to have depressive symptoms if the mother sleeps poorly. Sleep deprivation is also linked to suicidal ideation in women with postpartum depression.
The relationship between sleep deprivation and postpartum depression is likely bidirectional, with depression often causing sleep problems as well. Furthermore, both of these conditions often have roots in similar issues, such as stress, anxiety, and changing hormone levels.
After pregnancy, women experience a sudden drop in levels of estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormones. This change affects the sleep cycle and lays the groundwork for depression. Over time, if sleep doesnt improve, this raises the likelihood of developing postpartum depression.
Unfortunately, sleeping well is easier said than done when you are caring for a newborn. You may wake up multiple times during the night to breastfeed, change a diaper, or check on your fussing baby. Even when the baby is sleeping well, racing thoughts and to-do lists may keep you up at night. In short, sleep problems during early motherhood may be due to a lack of sleep, but also stem from fragmented sleep, poor-quality sleep, and difficulty falling asleep.
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Are Antidepressant Medications Safe During Pregnancy
Growing evidence suggests that many of the currently available antidepressant medicines are relatively safe for treating depression during pregnancy, at least in terms of short-term effects on the baby. Long-term effects have not been fully studied. You should discuss the possible risks and benefits with your doctor.
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Postpartum Depression Likely To Recur
Mood disorder seen in 1 in 200 new moms with no psychiatric history
TUESDAY, Sept. 26, 2017 â Women who have suffered from postpartum depression are more likely to go through it again after subsequent pregnancies, a new Danish study shows.
Postpartum depression occurs 27 to 46 times more frequently during subsequent pregnancies for mothers who experienced it after their first birth, researchers report.
These results show that women who have had postpartum depression in the past should prepare themselves if they get pregnant again, said lead researcher Marie-Louise Rasmussen, an epidemiologist with Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen.
Antidepressants or psychotherapy could help cushion the blow or even head off postpartum depression, Rasmussen said.
âIn theory, psychotherapy is preferred but not always sufficient and not always available. Often, the general practitioner has to add antidepressant medication,â Rasmussen said. âSocial support from the spouse and surroundings is also very important.â
In most cases, women can expect to shake off their postpartum depression within a year, the researchers found.
âBased on this data, we would think for most women who receive treatment, their depression should be treated and resolved in six months or less,â said Dr. James Murrough. Heâs director of the mood and anxiety disorders program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
How Can Depression During Pregnancy Affect Baby
When left untreated, stress and depression during pregnancy can impact both your and your babys health. Just like depression at other stages of life, prenatal depression can affect how you take care of yourself, which may impact the wellbeing of the fetus. For example, you might not take prenatal vitamins, exercise, eat well or get sufficient medical care.
The condition comes with other health risks for both mom and baby. Women experiencing depression during pregnancy have a higher risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and placental abnormalities, and are more likely to give birth prematurely or to a child with emotional, behavioral or developmental problems. And because prenatal depression increases the risk of postpartum depression, women who have depression during pregnancy may also have trouble bonding with their new baby after the birth.
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