How to avoid depression during pregnancy
Depression is one of the most common pregnancy complications, so talk to your doctor. At your prenatal visit, your provider will probably ask you about your mood and how you are feeling. If he doesn’t, don’t forget to mention it. Although women who have already been diagnosed with depression and anxiety are more likely to be diagnosed with pregnancy depression, many women are diagnosed with the disorder for the first time when they are expecting.
What causes depression during pregnancy?
Although experts do not fully understand the causes of depression during pregnancy, it may be due to a combination of emotional, physical and environmental factors. Preparing for a baby brings big changes, many of which feel out of your control – including worries about giving birth, being a good parent and the loss of your previous life. Hormonal changes can also affect a woman’s chances of developing gestational depression.
Symptoms of depression during pregnancy
Some of the symptoms of depression, such as fatigue or sleep problems, are normal during pregnancy. But prenatal depression can occur when you have feelings of sadness or depression, loss of interest or joy in the things you used to enjoy, or not being able to function in your daily life, and these symptoms last for weeks.
If you have been experiencing any of the following symptoms for at least two weeks, you may be depressed:
- Loss of interest in daily activities, or feeling that nothing is more enjoyable or fun
- Most of the day, feeling “blue,” sad or “empty” every day
- Low self-esteem, such as thinking that you can’t be a good parent
- Cries all the time
- Feeling extremely annoyed or excited
- Feeling anxious for your baby
- It is difficult to concentrate or make decisions
- Low energy or extreme fatigue that does not improve with rest
- Feeling a change in your eating or sleeping patterns, such as wanting to eat or sleep all the time or not being able to eat or sleep at all
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or hopelessness
- Feeling that life is not worth living
Research suggests that these symptoms may occur in the first and third trimesters.It is also common for women to develop the first signs of postpartum depression (PPD) or depression that develops one year after delivery during pregnancy. In fact, approximately half of women with PPD first notice symptoms of depression during pregnancy.
Depression during pregnancy treatment
Once she agrees to seek medical attention, a pregnant woman with depression will seek treatment that will not harm her unborn child. He should not think that the only treatment for depression is an antidepressant medication. There are many other therapies that can help her cope with mild depression. This type of therapy includes exercise, acupuncture, psychotherapy and support groups.
Exercise helps reduce depression by releasing neurotransmitters and endorphins to the brain, which improves mood. It lowers the immune system chemicals which can worsen depression and increase body temperature, which has a calming effect.
Researchers have recently shown that acupuncture can relieve the symptoms of depression. A 2010 study from the Stanford School of Medicine concluded that depression-specific acupuncture reduces the symptoms of depression in pregnant women who are at risk for a major depressive disorder. This type of acupuncture targets acupuncture points that are known to be associated with depression relief.
These approaches may include interpersonal therapy, which focuses on reducing stress in relationships, and cognitive-behavioral therapy, which identifies pessimistic thoughts and beliefs and works to change them.
Support groups have consistently proven to reduce symptoms and improve the self-esteem of people suffering from depression. There are depression support groups everywhere, including online, and it is important to find one that makes patients feel comfortable participating.
These therapies, with the support of family and friends, may be enough to manage a woman’s depression during pregnancy. They should be the first choice for women with mild or moderate depression.
Depression medication during pregnancy
In the case of severe depression or if alternative therapy does not alleviate the symptoms of depression, many medical professionals believe that antidepressant medications are the best choice for protecting the health of mother and baby. Pregnant women are reasonably concerned about the long-term effects of medication during pregnancy. Although all drugs cross the placenta, previous studies have shown that many of the major antidepressants on the market have been used by pregnant women without any side effects. Physicians are particularly comfortable prescribing classes of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for pregnant women. Evidence shows that the rate of birth defects in women receiving SSRI during pregnancy is similar to the rate of those who did not receive it. There is similar evidence for tricyclic antidepressants.
Pregnant women considering using medication to treat their depression will want to consider all of their options and ask their doctor about possible neonatal health problems or future developmental delays. Against the potential side effects of an antidepressant drug it is important to weigh the health issues that may affect the unborn child due to the symptoms of depression. SSRIs are so well-respected by the medical community that experts may recommend that a woman with severe depression during her pregnancy continue her medication after childbirth to avoid possible onset of postpartum depression.
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