Why Are Some Women Depressed During Pregnancy
With nine months of developing a human being, it comes to no surprise that pregnancy can be a physically and mentally exhausting period. But are women at risk of depression during this period?
People assume pregnant women have high and low days. Almost like a bipolar disorder, it’s expected that a pregnant woman’s mood/attitude will fluctuate between great happiness and deep sadness. The truth of the matter is this is only a stereotypical expectation. And studies are discovering more and more women are actually experiencing the mental illness, depression.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA), between 14 to 23 percent of women will experience depression during pregnancy.
But how do you know whether you’re experiencing this or not? And, furthermore, how do you seek help? Will this have any negative effects on the baby him/herself?
When we answer these three questions directly, we can see a pattern in how depression affects a pregnant woman.
How Do You Know if You Have Depression?
Depression is a tricky mental illness as there can be a great variety of causes. Doctors and psychologists are still studying the disorder at great length.
What we do know is depression is either the change of chemicals in the brain or the change of hormones. Hormones are produced by the body but can affect areas of the brain where emotion and mood play roles.
Still, unless you have you clinically lab test these chemical changes, how’s the average person to know? The best thing to look out for is risk factors. These are characteristics of your life which can put you more at risk for depression. It should be noted, not everyone who experiences risk factors will experience depression.
Risk factors include:
● You having a history of any mental illness.
● Your family having a history of any mental illness.
● A recent event has caused you much stress.
● You find little to no support from those around you.
● You’re having problems with your significant other (including domestic violence).
● Financial difficulties.
● You’re abusing substances.
How Do You Seek Help?
You don’t want to wait till after the pregnancy to treat your depression. For you to have a healthy mindset and your child to have a healthy birth, you’ll want to look to the following people for answers:
● Your prenatal care provider.
● A health care provider.
● A counselor or therapist.
As already mentioned, depression is tricky. People experience it at different levels with different complications. Therefore, the only way to get to the bottom of yours is by consulting professionals about your symptoms.
You’ll find there are a few different ways to treat depression. These include:
● Counseling - A one-on-one conversation with a professional (i.e. a therapist) in which you discuss your feelings and worries.
● Support Groups - An assortment of people who get together to share their feelings and worries, either in-person or online.
● Medication - Normally, antidepressants are prescribed for depression. However, there are risks here for pregnant women, including birth deformities. You’ll need to talk to a doctor in order to know what’s right for you. Furthermore, if you’ve been taking an antidepressant for a long time, stopping suddenly could affect your child. Never self-medicate!
Can Depression Have Any Negative Effects on Your Child?
Yes. Women who experience depression and don’t treat it are more at risk of:
● A low birth weight baby.
● A baby with higher levels of irritability, less activity, and less perceptive.
● A premature birth.
It’s understandable to be depressed during pregnancy. Even if those around you don’t understand, you can trust psychologists in their discovery that this is more common than people suppose.
However, you need to seek help and a treatment plan during pregnancy. With this smart decisions, you’ll be giving your child the best opportunity in life and yourself the ability to overcome mental illness in the early stages of parenthood.
Written by Paul James.