It was previously believed by experts that pregnancy hormones could protect against depression, therefore leaving women more vulnerable to the illness only after giving birth to the baby, thus resulting in a plunge in the hormone levels. However, that belief has now reversed as experts are starting to believe that the rapid increase in hormone levels at the start of the pregnancy can, in fact, disrupt the brain chemistry and lead to depression.
Depression can be experienced both during and after pregnancy which is known as antenatal and postnatal depression respectively. Depression is a mood disorder which can affect the health of both the mother and baby. It is much more intense than mood swings and can affect daily activities such as sleeping, eating, working and interaction. Women who have had a past personal history or family history of depression are at risk of suffering from it during pregnancy. Depression is quite common among pregnant women and at least twenty percent of them suffer from it.
Possible Complications Depression can Pose in a Pregnancy
- Disregarding prenatal care and ignoring all kinds of self care during pregnancy
- Self-abuse through drugs, alcohol and smoking which can harm the fetus
- Suicidal tendencies
- Premature birth of baby
- Spontaneous miscarriages
- Gestational hypertension or preeclampsia
Causes and Risk Factors for Depression during Pregnancy
- Hormonal changes occurring in a pregnant woman can trigger chemical changes in the brain causing depression
- Past personal history or family history of depression
- Stressful events such as difficult pregnancy, abortion and miscarriage, financial problems or demise in the family.
- Multiple pregnancies can cause stress due to an additional responsibility triggering depression
- Relationship issues
- Unplanned pregnancy
Symptoms of Depression during Pregnancy
Symptoms such as fatigue or insomnia are common for women, who are having a healthy pregnancy, but at times they get combined with the feeling of sadness and hopelessness and then this causes trouble to your daily life. You will feel that you are unable to handle daily responsibilities and are having dangerous thoughts of self-harm, and this by no means should be avoided. You must call your doctor and get the necessary help.
- Bouts of crying without any reason
- Sleeping disorder (insomnia or oversleeping)
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Poor concentration
- Getting overwhelmed by smallest chores
- Weight loss or change in appetite
- Mood swings
- Unpredictable behaviour
- Strange thoughts and feelings of worthlessness, guilt and suicide
Treatment of Depression during Pregnancy
If you think that you are suffering from depression go ahead and discuss it with your doctor. Sometimes it might be plain anxiety which is bothering you but it is always better to rule out depression at the earliest. Treatments include psychotherapy or counselling and medications such as antidepressants.
Depression during pregnancy could range from mild to severe, and it is entirely upon the woman and her family to make sure that she sails through this time well.
Read more articles on Problems During Pregnancy.
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