What Causes Depression in Pregnancy?
Also known as antepartum depression, depression in pregnancy is a mood disorder. Like any other clinical depression, it involves alterations in brain chemistry. Some of its causes include the following:
- Changes in hormones during pregnancy can affect brain chemicals associated with anxiety and depression. It explains why many pregnant women are usually emotional.
- Hardships in life can exacerbate these chemicals and lead to depression.
- A history of depression in the family or personally
- If you have pregnancy complications
- A history of trauma or abuse
- A previous loss of pregnancy
- When you have a poor or no social support
- The lack of a steady income
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Antepartum Depression?
It can be hard diagnosing mood disorders in pregnancy given the overlapping symptoms with those of pregnancy. It is also normal to experience anxiety about the well being of your pregnancy. However, get help if it persists and prevents you from functioning normally.
Some of the signs include:-
- Persistent sad mood
- Feeling worthless and hopeless
- Finding it hard to pay attention
- Feeling tired
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of sleep or sleeping too much
- These feelings may lead to thoughts of suicide
Risks of Untreated Depression
- Giving birth to a baby with low birth weight
- Premature birth
- Your baby may adapt poorly to the outside world (he/she may experience jitteriness and respiratory distress)
- The APGAR score may be low (APGAR rates the baby’s health)
- Termination of pregnancy
- Anxiety or postpartum depression
- Lack of attachment to the baby
- Pre-term labour
- Use of drugs and alcohol
- Neglecting herself
How to Treat It
The good news is that depression during this time is treatable. You can treat by using antidepressant medication or nonmedical methods.
- Psychotherapy – it is a method that helps minimise the need for taking antidepressants. It is common in treating moderate or mild depression.
- Light therapy
- Omega-3 is a natural mood-booster
- Antidepressants – doctors try to avoid prescribing antidepressants to pregnant women. However, it is necessary if they have severe depression or a relapsing history.
Where to Get Support
Always get help from your doctor after taking to close friends and family. You can also access Women’s Mental Health Consortium database for more information. It has information about mental health professionals specialized in treating women.
#Please note that development differs from one child to another.
#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.
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Last reviewed January 2019