The Importance of Treating Depression During Pregnancy

November 12, 2012

The Importance of Treating Depression During Pregnancy

Depression during pregnancy affects the body, the mind and the mood of the pregnant women in question. There are generally two kinds of depression that she may go through: major depression and minor depression, both of which may interfere with her ability to sleep, eat, work, study and have fun in either a severe or less severe manner.

The Risks of Depression

  • If left untreated, depression during pregnancy may result in serious risks, including the following:

  • Bad prenatal care

  • Insufficient weight gain

  • Preeclampsia

  • Unhealthy eating

  • Suicide

  • Alcohol or drug abuse

Aside from that, mothers who are depressed are usually less capable of bonding with their children, taking care of themselves and taking care of their children.

The babies who are born to depressed women, on the other hand, are usually, less active, less attentive and more irritable compared to other babies, as well. Sometimes, they are also born with a low birth weight or prematurely.

The Symptoms

Pregnant women who are depressed feel sad, in general, and also suffer form various other symptoms, which may include the following:

  • Sleeping too much

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Lack of interest

  • Loss of energy

  • Feelings of guilt

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Appetite changes

  • Slowed movement, restlessness or agitation

  • Suicidal ideas or thoughts

These symptoms might last for two weeks or more, depending on the woman. Some doctors find it hard to diagnose depression during pregnancy because some of the symptoms can also be found in normal women who are pregnant. Appetite changes and difficulty sleeping, for example, are common in pregnant woman, in general, while other medical problems share symptoms with depression, too. For example, women with thyroid problems or anemia might have a loss of energy without actually being depressed. So, if you have several of the symptoms mentioned above, make sure you talk to your doctor, so he can find out what is causing them.

The Treatment

There are various ways to treat depression during pregnancy, including support groups and counseling or therapy with an expert in mental health (like a psychiatrist, social worker or psychotherapist). Pregnant women who only suffer from mild depression may get enough treatment through therapy, though. Some pregnant women suffer from a kind of depression that occurs during the colder seasons, when sunlight is less evident. This is known as SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder and can be treated with something called light therapy, wherein the patient looks at lightbulbs in a box. Another common kind of treatment for depression during pregnancy would be ECT or Electroconvulsive Therapy, wherein electric currents are sent into the patient’s brain. This would be highly recommended for women who suffer from severe depression.

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