Talking About Taboos: Depression in Pregnancy

Post-partum depression is a taboo that many people just aren’t prepared to talk about. Even more taboo is the concept of suffering from depression during your pregnancy. After all, pregnant women are supposed to be happy, serene, glowing. And yet, 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, despite the fact that many of those women choose not to talk about their feelings or seek help from their doctor. According to Baby Center, up to 80% struggle to cope with the changes to their bodies and their hormonal levels in the 2 weeks after giving birth.

How to Differentiate Between Depression and Hormonal Changes

depression during pregnancyBecause the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy are likely to affect your mood, many women may struggle to differentiate between depression and normal hormonal changes caused by pregnancy. Simply feeling sad or emotional are perfectly normal symptoms of pregnancy, and are not signs of depression. However if those feelings are constant and persist throughout your pregnancy then you may be suffering from depression. According to Pysch Guides, if a pregnant woman is depressed, then the symptoms will 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. Depressed pregnant women often withdraw from their friends and families and change their lifestyles: so if you used to exercise every day you may find yourself choosing to sit on the sofa eating junk food instead.

The Pros and Cons of Taking Anti-Depressants During Pregnancy

Conventional thinking is that depression itself can cause health risks to a baby the benefits of treating it are likely to outweigh the risk of taking any medication.   So if you feel you need anti-depressants to cope with your partum depression then the rule of thumb is that your doctor will be very happy to prescribe them. However it might be worth exploring other, more natural ways of dealing with your depression first, before you turn to medication. Pregnancy yoga and exercise classes are said to be very effective mood boosters, as is the talking therapy of speaking to a psychiatrist. A study conducted in 2013 and reported by CBS News found that mom’s depression can be bad for babies’ brains. The study, which was conducted by researchers at the National University of Singapore found that the brains of babies whose moms were depressed during pregnancy develop differently, which very slightly increased  their risk for mood and anxiety disorders later in life. So whether you choose to take medication or look at other mood boosting techniques, it’s important to tackle your depression head on rather than ignoring your thoughts and feelings.

You’re Not Alone

Above all, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in the way that you’re feeling, there is help available, and that suffering from depression during pregnancy won’t make you a bad mom. With as many as 20 percent of women suffering from partum depression, that means that for every 10 women in your antenatal classes, two are likely to feel just the same way as you do. That figure may be even higher: A recent study in The Scientific World Journal found that 70 percent of pregnant women are either anxious and/or depressed. Plus, several studies have shown that mood problems are actually more likely during pregnancy than during the postpartum period. If you’re pregnant and concerned you may be suffering from depression then it’s important that you seek help and talk to someone about how you’re feeling.  Tell your husband, partner and family. Ask for their support and visit your doctor together if you don’t feel able to go alone. Finally it’s important to remember that suffering from depression during your pregnancy doesn’t mean you’ll suffer from post-partum depression once your baby is born. In fact, the best treatment for partum depression is to deliver your baby! Pregnancy only lasts 9 months and then you’re precious babe will be in your arms: and she’ll be worth all of the heartache in the end.