How Common Is Depression During Pregnancy
Contrary to the popular belief that pregnancy protects women from affective illness, the prevalence of mood disorders is similar for pregnant and nonpregnant women. Between 12% and 15% of women meet criteria for depression at some point during their pregnancy or the postpartum period., It is unclear why the second and third trimester of pregnancy seem to be linked with an increased risk of depression .
Should Antidepressants Be Continued Postpartum
If a woman has chosen to utilize an antidepressant medication throughout pregnancy, it is typically recommended that she continue it postpartum. The postpartum period is a time of increased risk of affective illness therefore, continuation of an antidepressant medication may be beneficial in maintenance of euthymia.
Many providers are concerned about the risk of postpartum psychosis and recommend continuation of antidepressants to prevent its onset. Postpartum psychosis is a rare, severe psychiatric illness occurring at a rate of 12 per thousand births onset is typically within the first 12 weeks postdelivery. Postpartum psychosis has a strong bidirectional link with bipolar disorder major depressive disorder is not thought to increase the risk of postpartum psychosis. Patients may experience psychotic symptoms in the context of a major depressive episode however, this is vastly different than the rapid onset of psychotic symptoms that are seen in an episode of postpartum psychosis.
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.
Recommended Reading: How Do You Know If You Are Suffering With Depression
Are There Any Natural Treatments
With the controversy regarding the use of some antidepressants during pregnancy, many women are interested in other ways to help treat depression. As mentioned above, support groups, psychotherapy, and light therapy are alternatives to using medication when treating mild to moderate depression.In addition to these, you may want to talk with your health care providers about some of the other natural ways to help relieve the symptoms of depression.
If you do not feel comfortable talking with your health care provider about your feelings of depression, find someone else to talk with. It is important that someone knows what you are dealing with and can try to help you. Never try to face depression alone. Your baby needs you to seek help and get treatment.
Want to Know More?
Postpartum Depression Is Different From The Baby Blues
Postpartum depression is depression that occurs after having a baby. Feelings of postpartum depression are more intense and last longer than those of baby blues, a term used to describe the worry, sadness, and tiredness many women experience after having a baby.
The symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to symptoms of depression, but may also include:
- Crying more often than usual.
- Feelings of anger.
- Feeling distant from your baby.
- Worrying or feeling overly anxious.
- Thinking about hurting yourself or your baby.
- Doubting your ability to care for your baby.
If you think you have depression, seek treatment from your health care provider as soon as possible.
Don’t Miss: Can Depression Be Cured Permanently
Seeing A Reproductive Psychiatrist
If you have a mood disorder, you may benefit from speaking with a reproductive psychiatrist when you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. Ideally, this should happen when you are planning for pregnancy, although this isnt always possible. Meeting with a doctor after you become pregnant is not too late.
Osborne says her approach with patients is to limit the number of potentially harmful exposures to the baby. This means considering the number of medications a mother is on, as well as her psychiatric illness.
If a woman takes a low dose of many medications and we have time to plan, well try to get that down to a higher dose of fewer medications, she says. If a woman is on a low dose and its not controlling her illness, then her baby is exposed to both the medication and the illness. In that case, I would increase the medication dosage so her baby isnt exposed to the illness.
If your illness is mild, your doctor might recommend getting off medication and replacing it with treatments such as psychotherapy, prenatal yoga or acupuncture to improve your mood.
Ultimately, Osborne says women should weigh the risks of medication against the risk of untreated illness.
If a particular side effect is extremely rare, its still a very rare event even if you double the risk, she says. Medication risks are typically not greater than those of untreated mental illness. Switching a womans medication is something I do very carefully and reluctantly.
How Our Helpline Works
For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the PsychGuides.com helpline is a private and convenient solution.
We are standing by 24/7 to discuss your treatment options. Our representatives work solely for AAC and will discuss whether an AAC facility may be an option for you.
Our helpline is offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment. Neither PsychGuides.com nor AAC receives any commission or other fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a visitor may ultimately choose.
For more information on AACs commitment to ethical marketing and treatment practices, or to learn more about how to select a treatment provider, visit our About AAC page.
Can You Take Antidepressants During Pregnancy
Many pregnant women are wary of taking medications during pregnancy.
Theres the concern, that the doctor will automatically place them on an antidepressant, Clark said. But thats not always the case. Sometimes just following up and counseling will help.
If a doctor does determine a patient needs to be on medication, or refers a patient to a psychologist who makes that call, there are many options.
While some antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications may be associated with minor risks of birth defects or other developmental issues, many others are safe for pregnant women to take. And in most cases, if a woman needs to be on a medication, the risks of taking that medication are far less than the risks of the mom-to-be going untreated.
Theres definitely still stigma behind pregnant women who need to take medications for any kind of mental health disorder, Clark said. But the fact remains that we need to have a healthy mom to have a healthy baby, and if that means she needs to take medication, that is perfectly fine.
Anxiety Medications During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is supposed to be a beautiful time – a time of considerable joy as you await bringing a new life into the world. It’s depicted as a stress free time of anticipation, but the reality of pregnancy is that it can be filled with stress, and the hormonal changes alone can alter your body’s chemistry and create a considerable amount of anxiety.
Unfortunately, most anxiety medications cannot or should not be taken during pregnancy. Only a few are approved for use while pregnant, and even then it’s best to try to find solutions that are not drug related.
Recommended Reading: Can Postpartum Depression Start During Pregnancy
Finding Support And Specialists
If you’re pregnant and you’re having depression or anxiety symptoms, talk to your OB-GYN or midwife. She should be able to treat you directly, or connect you with the appropriate mental health care provider. These organizations can also offer confidential help:
Postpartum Support International will connect you directly to a local coordinator who can help you find local resources, offer support, and give you tips on managing mood and anxiety disorders during and after pregnancy .
The MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health offers credible information on the risks of untreated depression during pregnancy, as well as evaluation and treatment options .
What Are The Risks To The Neonate From Exposure To An Antidepressant Through Breast Milk
Since psychotropic medications are secreted into breast milk, risks to the infant must be considered. Tolerability may vary considerably based on several different factors: the amount of exposure , the infants rate of metabolism, and the amount of sedation induced . In addition, weight gain and sexual dysfunction may be less tolerable in the postpartum period.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has deemed that a safe breast-feeding ratio of infant dose exposure to maternal dose is < 10%. The exception to this rule is fluoxetine . However, if a woman is taking a medication during pregnancy, the recommendation is to leave the postpartum antidepressant dose unchanged. Continuation of the same medication postpartum limits the number of medication trials to the infant.
You May Like: Medication To Help With Depression
Pregnancy Depression And Medication
Women with more severe depression during pregnancy may need anti-depressant medicine. It is never an easy decision to take medication when you are pregnant, but oftentimes it is the right thing to do because being depressed can impact both your and your babyshealth.
You and your doctor must weigh the risk of untreated depression while pregnant versus the concerns of medicine affecting the baby. For many women, pregnancy depression might be managed without a prescription. But, for others, drugs are necessary.
Natural Remedies For Depression During Pregnancy
Some natural remedies for depression during pregnancy can include exercise, bathing in mild sunshine, talk therapy, maintaining a daily journal, pursuing a hobby, surrounding oneself with positive and fun people, listening to good music, prayer, eating healthy food, getting enough sleep, etc.
Pregnancy is a stage in life every woman looks forwards to and celebrates. Her body, carrying a new life changes not how she looks, but so many other facets too. There are certain chemicals in action that bring about these changes. Like other parts of the anatomy, the chemicals in the brain are also affected during pregnancy and sometimes they can trigger anxiety and depression causing mood swings and depression in pregnant women.
Med Upenn Edu
Don’t Miss: Where To Go To Get Diagnosed With Depression
Is There Anything Else I Should Do
If you are feeling any of the symptoms listed above, it is very important to tell someone. The early days of taking care of a new baby can be hard. Youre probably not sleeping much as you try to meet your babys needs around the clock. Find a friend, family member or someone else you trust who can look after your baby for short periods while you get a break. If people offer help, accept it.
There are many support programs for new mothers. Talk to your doctor, nurse, midwife, or contact your local public health office for a listing of services in your area.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Antepartum Depression
Depression during pregnancy can have the same symptoms that define major depression in the general population. These can include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once enjoyable
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, helpless, or guilty
- Frequently feeling irritated, anxious, frustrated, or angry
However, its important to note that a number of symptoms of major depression are similar to the changes that many pregnant women typically experience:
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Changes in appetite and eating habits
This overlap can make it very difficult to identify pregnant women who need help.
RELATED: 12 Surprising Facts About Depression
Don’t Miss: How To Know If You Are Diagnosed With Depression
Take Care Of Yourself
Preparing for a new baby is a lot of hard work, but your health should come first. So resist the urge to get everything done: Cut down on your chores, and do things that will help you to relax. Taking care of yourself is a key part of taking care of your unborn child.
Open up to your partner, your family, or your friends about what concerns you. If you ask for support, you’ll find that you often get it.
Your OB-GYN or regular doctor may screen you for depression at a routine office visit. They can ask you a series of questions to check your risk for depression and can offer treatment if necessary.
Living With: Depression During Pregnancy
Depression during pregnancy is a very difficult and sensitive subject. Statistics from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest that between 14 and 23 percent of women suffer from some form of depression during pregnancy. There are many questions that the pregnant woman and her family must struggle with. Is she truly suffering from depression or is her behavior caused by normal pregnancy hormones? If she is suffering from depression, what can she do? What can her family do? Are there any treatments that wont harm the baby?
Because of hormonal changes during pregnancy, a woman may not realize that she is suffering from depression. At first, depression may not seem different from the anxiety, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and many other symptoms that are typical of pregnancy. However, when a woman is depressed these symptoms are more frequent and severe. If she is depressed, the symptoms last for more than two weeks and prevent the woman from anticipating the joy of bringing a new life into the world. She may also experience other symptoms that are clearly associated with depression such as persistent sadness, feelings of worthlessness or thoughts of suicide.
Don’t Miss: What Is Ect Treatment For Depression
Does Pregnancy Cause Depression
Pregnancy can cause you to experience depression. Your body goes through a lot of change and the stresses of pregnancy can trigger depression in some women. Not everyone who becomes pregnant will also be depressed.
If you have experienced depression in the past, your symptoms could return or if you were living with depression before your pregnancy, it may get worse once youre pregnant.
Its important to talk to your healthcare provider about depression during pregnancy because it can extend after delivery. Women who experience depression during pregnancy are at a higher risk of postpartum depression .
Antidepressants And Pregnancy: Tips From An Expert
Most pregnant women want to do everything right for their baby, including eating right, exercising regularly and getting good prenatal care. But if youre one of the many women who have a mood disorder, you might also be trying to manage your psychiatric symptoms as you prepare to welcome your new baby.
Its common for doctors to tell women with mood disorders to stop taking drugs like antidepressants during pregnancy, leaving many moms-to-be conflicted about giving up the medications that help keep them healthy.
Lauren Osborne, M.D., assistant director of the Johns Hopkins Womens Mood Disorders Center, talks about why stopping your medication may not be the right approach. She explains how women can and should balance their mental health needs with a healthy pregnancy.
Recommended Reading: Free Treatment For Depression And Anxiety
How Is Depression During Pregnancy Diagnosed
Criteria for the diagnosis of depression are the same regardless of pregnancy status however, depression is often overlooked in pregnancy, as the symptoms of depression are often similar to the somatic experiences associated with pregnancy. For example, it is common for pregnant women without an affective illness to experience disturbances of sleep and appetite, diminished energy, and decreased libido during pregnancy. Therefore, utilizing nonsomatic symptoms to help guide a diagnosis of depression in pregnancy may be more telling.
Risk factors for the development of depression in pregnancy include insufficient social support, living alone, marital discord, having an unwanted pregnancy, or having multiple children. Age is a risk factor for depression during pregnancy up to 26% of pregnant adolescents develop major depression. In addition, a personal or family history of affective illness also predisposes to depression during pregnancy. Further, if a woman discontinues her antidepressant medication at the time of conception, she has a much higher chance of redeveloping depressive symptoms during her pregnancy than if she were to remain on an antidepressant throughout her pregnancy.
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:
Read Also: Is Depression And Anxiety A Mental Illness