You may be aware of postpartum depression. But do you know many women suffer from depression during pregnancy? The most common disorder, depression is defined as a mood disorder that causes loss of interest and a persistent feeling of sadness. It’s normal to feel low occasionally, but if it lasts for a long period, you’re suffering from depression. It affects different aspects of your life — from how you think and act to eating and sleeping. This condition occurs more in women than men and during the reproductive years, the initial onset of depression is at its peak.
Why does depression often go unnoticed during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, the hormonal changes can affect the chemicals in the brain which result in anxiety and depression. Some symptoms of depression such as the change in energy level, appetite, libido and sleep are similar to pregnancy symptoms. Due to this, most pregnant women remain unaware of the fact that they are suffering from depression. During your Antenatal visits, you should make sure to tell your doctor about the mood changes you’re experiencing. The doctor will arrange an appropriate referral if needed.
Symptoms of depression during pregnancy
The symptoms of depression during pregnancy are pretty similar to the ones that occur in a normal person. However, there are some additional symptoms of pregnancy depression. Here are some important ones:
- Persistent sadness
- Excessive anxiety about the baby
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Low self-esteem
- Poor weight gain due to decreased dietary intake
- Loss of interest in activities that were enjoyable before
- Feeling of guilt
- Thoughts of suicide
- Drinking alcohol, smoking or having illicit drugs
Risk factors of untreated depression during pregnancy to the mother
- Pregnancy termination
- Not taking good care of oneself
- Impaired attachment to the baby
- Postpartum depression
Risk of untreated depression during pregnancy to the baby
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight of the baby
- Poor adaptation outside the womb including jitteriness and respiratory distress.
Treatment of depression during pregnancy
Nowadays, screening of depression during pregnancy is a standard part of prenatal care. And if you think you’re suffering from pregnancy depression, don’t wait for the screening during prenatal visits. As untreated depression during pregnancy has many risks to both the mother and baby, it’s important to take help of your doctor as soon as you feel like you are suffering from depression. Based on the severity of your depression, you may be given antidepressants, psychotherapy, support groups or other available treatment.
In addition to these, you may be asked to adopt some of the following ways to get relief from depression symptoms.
- Get adequate rest
- Pay attention to your diet and nutrition
Be it mild or severe depression, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor. The earlier you recognise pregnancy depression, the faster you will recover; it’s good for your baby’s health, as well. Make sure not to deal with depression alone.