Depression in pregnancy, is it possible?
The answer is YES, it is possible. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and The American Psychiatric Association (APA) states that about 14-23 % of pregnant women can become afflicted with depression. But in most cases, it remains unreported as the symptoms are often confused with the usual hormonal imbalance that occurs during pregnancy.
What is depression?
Antepartum depression, also known as depression that occurs during pregnancy, is characteristic of clinical depression in its mood disorders caused by hormones affecting chemicals in the brain.
What are the symptoms?
Some of the symptoms a person could be experiencing are-
- Constant feeling of sadness and hopelessness
- Lack of interest
- Crying frequently for no apparent reason
- Loss of appetite
- Suicidal thoughts and thoughts about death
- Lack of energy
- Sleeping too much or too little
What can depression do?
These symptoms should not be left ignored as they can have deleterious effects and put the mother as well as the fetus at risk. In the case of the fetus, it can suffer from-
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Low APGAR score (which rates a newborn’s health after delivery)
- Poor development
The risks to the mother include:
- Suicidal tendencies
- Pregnancy termination
- Postpartum depression
- Substance abuse
- Cesarean birth
What are the antepartum treatment options?
There are many effective treatment options available which have helped women manage their depression and live happy, fulfilling lives. If you have any of the symptoms for more than two weeks you should consult your doctor and discuss on a treatment approach. Before you consider prescription drugs, you may want to try a change in your diet.
Most pregnant women are reluctant in taking antidepressants in regards to the safety of the baby. There are several other natural therapies that work just as effectively as well is safe for the baby. These include:
- Talk Therapy
Talk Therapy or Psychotherapy involves communicating one’s problems to help resolve them and treat depression.
Exercising regularly will increase serotonin levels at the same time lower cortisol levels, the two chemicals which work miracles in chasing depression away.
- Rest often
Resting often can help in managing stress and keeps the mind fresh.
- Herbal remedies
Herbal remedies can help to influence moods as well as serotonin levels.
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids
Found in fish and walnuts, which reduce symptoms of depression
- Proper diet
Mood changes are proven to have a direct link with the food you consume. It also affects your ability to handle stress and achieve clarity of the mind. Food habits, especially high caffeine or sugar intake, processed carbohydrates, low protein and artificial additives can all contribute to the degradation of your mental and physical health. Therefore it is very important that you make conscious decision about your diet, not only for you but for your baby as well!
- Light therapy
It involves exposing the patient to artificial sunlight to treat depression
- Acupuncture and massage
This involves insertion of tiny needles at specific regions of the body. A study by Stanford University revealed that 63% of women who received acupuncture specific for depression showed improvements
- Support group
Simply sharing your problems with a support group can help relieve a lot of the symptoms of depression.
Depression in pregnancy is completely treatable and the symptoms should never be avoided. And with the proper treatment, you will be back to feeling normal and happy as before.