For many women, being pregnant gives into extreme happiness and jubilation. Unfortunately, a small percentage of women actually experience intense depression when they become pregnant. Understanding the symptoms associated with depression and the risk factors for the condition is essential. This guide will help you determine how to identify and seek treatment for depression during pregnancy.
While no two women will experience depression in quite the same way, there are a few common symptoms associated with the condition. Some of these symptoms are unique to women who are pregnant, but most are commonly associated with depression in general.
The symptoms include:
Poor mood for several weeks
A strong sense of guilt or hopelessness
Lack of interest in former hobbies and activities
Lack of energy
Change in appetite (increase or decrease)
Thoughts of suicide or death
Change in sleep routine (more or less)
Additionally, there are some common risk factors associated with depression during pregnancy. Do any of these apply to you? If so, they could indicate that you are prone to depression more so than other women.
Your pregnancy has complications.
You went through fertility treatment in order to conceive and are worried about losing the pregnancy.
You already have three (or more) children.
You live alone.
You have been abused.
You are under the age of 20.
You lack financial or emotional support.
You have a history of PMDD or severe PMS.
If left untreated during pregnancy, depression can be quite severe. Patients can end up with conditions like pre-eclampsia and have to undergo a C-section rather than natural labor. Additionally, women with depression often struggle to connect with their babies after birth. They may turn to alcohol and other substances. Post-partum depression is another common risk.
Treatment is available to pregnant women. Psychotherapy is a common treatment, especially if you need somebody to confide in about things going on in your life. Cognitive behavioral therapy is especially helpful for those who want to battle negative recurring thoughts. Some women also find relief in light therapy, especially if they have experienced seasonal depression in the past. Some women also find relief in antidepressants, under the guidance of a qualified doctor. Some serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are considered safe.
If you are concerned about depression, it is essential that you speak with your doctor as soon as possible. Quality health care is available, but you have to ask for it. Your doctor is not likely to recognize the symptoms if you are not open about them.