Within the last two decades, the subject of depression during pregnancy has lost its taboo and become a forerunner topic in women’s health. Before that, many people wrongly assumed that pregnant women were content, if not downright giddy about being pregnant and giving birth. Anticipation of a baby’s arrival does little to calm the depression with which a significant number of expectant mothers suffer. In fact, the CDC reports that between 14 and 23 percent of all pregnant women will develop depression at some point in their pregnancies. If you find yourself experiencing the hallmark symptoms of depression during your own pregnancy, you can benefit by learning more about this condition and how it is commonly treated.
First, it is important to know that you are not alone in dealing with your symptoms. Close to one quarter of all pregnant women in the U.S. have depression prior to delivery. You have done nothing wrong to you or your unborn baby to cause these symptoms. The onset of your depression arose from the fluctuation of hormones in your body. Pregnancy ramps up the production of hormones to safeguard your health and that of your unborn child. Some women find relief of their symptoms after they deliver while others go onto deal with postpartum depression. Even more, your depression with one pregnancy may differ from the symptoms you experience with another.
Fortunately, your obstetrician can treat your depression even while you are pregnant. You will be unable to take the more powerful medications often prescribed for depression, such as Zoloft or Prozac. However, you can still take medications that have been tested and are deemed safe for pregnancy. Moreover, once your doctor is aware of your symptoms, he or she can monitor you more closely to ensure that your mental health does not take a turn for the worse. If needed, your doctor can refer you to a therapist who can meet with you regularly throughout your pregnancy. Prenatal depression is increasingly common and very treatable. It is important that you realize that you are never alone in dealing with this condition and that help is always available when you speak with your doctor.
Dealing With Anxiety While Pregnant
Like dealing with depression while pregnant, anxiety can ruin what should be one of the most joyous times in your life. Feeling a bit anxious about going through delivery or raising a child, among other common concerns, is no cause for alarm. In fact, worrying to a lesser extent about these circumstances that at first seem beyond your control shows that your pregnancy is normal and that you are developing typical maternal instincts. However, when your anxiety interrupts your life or causes you to be ill, it is time for you to seek appropriate medical help.
Sometimes severe anxiety is caused by psychological or sociological factors that you cannot control. For example, if you are in an abusive relationship you understandably will worry about raising a child in such an unstable environment. If you grew up in a home where showing feelings or being concerned for each other was shunned, you may fear that you will be unable to bond with your baby or take care of him or her properly. Such anxiety can interrupt your daily life, cause you to lose sleep, stop eating, and make you feel panicked at unpredictable moments. Rather than suffer with anxiety, you would do well to speak with your doctor.
Your doctor should always be your starting point in your pursuit to gain control over your anxiety. Even if you elect not to take medications for anxiety during your pregnancy, your doctor can still refer you to a counselor or therapist. Sometimes just vocalizing your fears to an objective third party can help you rationalize your thoughts and prompt you to gain control of the situation. Likewise, your counselor or therapist can also help you identify problems that you can control and which ones that you may need further help with before you deliver. While some anxiety is normal when you are pregnant, severe anxiety is a legitimate prenatal condition that warrants medical attention.
Dealing With Depression While Trying To Get Pregnant
Women who struggle with fertility understandably can be depressed when their efforts are fruitless month after month. If you are trying to conceive, you may feel like the odds are against you and that you are not worthy enough to become a parent. Depression during the effort to become pregnant likewise is a very common reaction to a situation that you cannot control. It is important for you to identify the precise causes of your depression and seek treatment if needed so that you can focus on conceiving a pregnancy.
Reproductive therapists are valuable assets during your efforts to have a baby. Along with helping you figure out ways to conceive, these therapists also can address your mental health concerns. In many cases, a few sessions with the therapist can help you put things back into perspective so that you can go on with your attempts to conceive. In severe cases of depression, however, your therapist may prescribe medications designed to calm your nerves and ramp up the production of the appropriate hormones in your brain.
Interestingly, men are just as likely to feel depressed as women when a couple is trying to conceive. Your partner or husband may need to join you in the therapy sessions and take medications to help calm the emotions that make this battle so difficult. Along with therapy and medication, you and your partner may be advised to engage in creative solutions designed to keep your depression at bay. For example, your counselor may tell you to keep a journal or to write letters to your soon-to-be-born child. Your counselor may also tell you to envision your baby and you becoming a parent. These activities center on the power of thought and helping you feel more in control of your depression.