Coping With Anxiety and Depression During Pregnancy

0 August 30, 2018 By Dang

Research has shown that up to 33 percent of women experience clinical depression or an anxiety disorder at some point during pregnancy. Yet some studies indicate that fewer than 20 percent seek treatment, and that treatment is often inadequate.

Depression during pregnancy, or antepartum depression, is a mood disorder just like clinical depression. Mood disorders are biological illnesses that involve changes in brain chemistry.

During pregnancy, hormone changes can affect the chemicals in your brain, which are directly related to depression and anxiety.  These can be exacerbated by difficult life situations, which can result in depression during pregnancy.

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Symptoms of depression include:

  • Being in a depressed mood most of the time for at least two weeks
  • No longer enjoying the things you used to enjoy
  • Decreased interest in the world around you
  • Guilt
  • A sense of worthlessness
  • Low energy
  • Poor concentration
  • Appetite changes
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Getting too much sleep, or not enough sleep

The symptoms of anxiety vary by type of anxiety disorder, and include:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

  • Excessive worry that’s difficult to control
  • Irritability
  • Tension/muscle aches
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Feeling restless inside
  • Fatigue
  • Poor concentration

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:

  • Recurrent, persistent, intrusive thoughts
  • Compulsions to relieve those thoughts through repetitive thoughts or behaviors

Panic disorder:

  • Recurrent panic attacks
  • Persistent fear of having a panic attack

Risk Factors for Anxiety and Depression

Anyone can experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy, but women with these risk factors are especially susceptible:

  • A personal or family history of a mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety
  • A history of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Being a young mother (under the age of 20)
  • Having poor social support
  • Living alone
  • Experiencing marital conflict
  • Being divorced, widowed, or separated
  • Having experienced traumatic or stressful events in the past year
  • Feeling ambivalent about being pregnant
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Having a low income
  • Having more than three children

Risks to the mother include:

  • Suicide
  • Pregnancy termination
  • Postpartum depression or anxiety
  • Use of substances such as alcohol or drugs
  • Impaired attachment to the baby
  • Not taking good care of her physical health
  • Preeclampsia
  • Preterm labor
  • Having a C-section

The cure to prenatal depression

If you feel you may be struggling with depression, the most important step is to seek help. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms and struggles.

A woman with mild to moderate depression may be able to manage her symptoms with support groups, psychotherapy and light therapy. But if a pregnant woman is dealing with severe depression, a combination of psychotherapy and medication is usually recommended.



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