During pregnancy, the hormonal changes could play a role and lead to a relapse, with many expectant mums suffering in silence. Dealing with depression during pregnancy is essential.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and just like
any other illness can be debilitating and difficult for any sufferer.
Depression is a common mood disorder affecting 1 in 10 women. It causes
feelings of sadness, detachment, hopelessness and other strong emotions that
can affect day-to-day activities.
Depression can occur during pregnancy for a
number of reasons, especially if you are prone to the disorder or even have it
under control. During pregnancy, the hormonal changes could play a role and
lead to a relapse, with many expectant mums suffering in silence.
What are the symptoms of depression during
It’s common to feel tired, nauseous and a little emotional while
pregnant. However, depression can exasperate these symptoms and make them feel
unbearable or intense.
Losing interest or pleasure in daily activities
and things that you enjoyed before
Feelings of incredible sadness and hopelessness,
sometimes for no reason at all
Feeling like you are unable to function in your
daily life or communicate with others
Closing yourself off from friends and family
Feelings lasting five or more weeks
Anxiety, irritability or agitation
Low energy or extreme fatigue that doesn’t get
better with rest or sleep
Changes in sleeping and eating patterns –
overeating or undereating
Who is at risk of developing depression?
Depression isn’t a choice and doesn’t discriminate. It is an illness
that can affect anyone at any time and might not have a noticeable cause.
However, it can usually affect women during their 20s or early 30s, which is
around the same time most women plan their pregnancy or become pregnant.
Depression can also be caused by a combination of factors including family
history and genetics, a past history of depression and anxiety, life stress
like financial issues, relationship troubles and a death of a loved one,
feelings of isolation and lack of support or domestic violence.
What to do to eliminate depressive thoughts during
First, it’s best to talk to your doctor about depressive thoughts to
get the appropriate treatment. You might need a referral to a psychiatrist,
psychologist or counsellor, depending on the severity of what you’re feeling
and going through. Usual treatments that help to reduce or eliminate these
feelings include medication, CBT therapy, a change in diet and lifestyle or
Depressive thoughts can be due to the stress of having a baby, what to
expect or the pressure of being the ‘perfect’ parent.
However, they may be a
sign of an underlying and more serious mental health condition and depressive
episode, so proper advice and treatment from a medical professional is advised.
Coping strategies to help depressive thoughts and
depression while pregnant
Professional assistance is always recommended in terms of mental
health, but simple lifestyle changes can actually make an incredible difference
in how you feel and think. Healing takes time and a lot of effort and shouldn’t
be rushed, so making small positive choices every day can help ease depressive
thoughts and feelings.
Getting some sun every day is an important part of recovery, as vitamin
D is known to improve mood and sleep cycles.
You can do this by taking short
walks outside every day, even just for 15-20 minutes, eat lunch and drink your
coffee in the sunshine or on the terrace, go for a run around the
neighbourhood, drive to the beach and take a stroll or simply sit out in your
own garden and breathe in the fresh air.
It’s a known fact that talking about what you’re going through can
actually help reduce the heavy feeling that depression can have. You can talk
to psychologist and begin a number of medication-free therapies including CBT,
or chat to someone you love and trust. Lifeline and
Beyond Blue provide an
online chat room or phone service if you need to speak to someone urgently.
Even though it can be incredibly hard to stay social when you’re not
feeling so great, it’s important to surround yourself with positive people or
head out when you can. Relaxed outings like the movies, the theatre or a dinner
are nice ways to socialise without pushing the boundaries.
Exercising might not appeal to you when you’re pregnant and feeling
like you want to retreat into your own sanctuary, but studies show that
exercise can actually be as effective as antidepressants because of the
serotonin that is released. Not only does exercise increase energy levels and
decrease fatigue but it improves a range of other issues during pregnancy,
including digestive issues or weight gain.
The best part about exercise is that
you can do it in the comfort of your own home or go for a 30-minute to one hour
walk at the beach or around your neighbourhood.
Depression may make you
want to sleep for as long as 14 hours a day or more, especially if your
depressive thoughts are strong and you feel like you can’t get out of bed or
don’t want to cope with the day ahead. Whatever the case, too much sleep can
actually make you feel worse, even though you think you’re still tired. Try to
regulate your circadian rhythm and sleep cycle by falling asleep and waking up
at the same time every day. Aim for around 7-9 hours of sleep every night and
avoid television or artificial lights in the bedroom, which actually disrupt
the circadian rhythm.
techniques can go a long way to help reduce intrusive thoughts and stress
during pregnancy. Yoga, Pilates, breathing techniques, progressive muscle
relaxation, mindfulness, meditation or even prayer have provided beneficial
results that boost feelings of positivity and well-being.
Eating healthy is always
important but especially crucial if you’re pregnant and suffering from any
mental health disorder. Food cravings might be difficult to control during
pregnancy but dietary modifications can help reduce depressive thoughts and
anxiety, as foods high in sugar, fat and artificial ingredients can make you
feel jittery, foggy and tired. Cut back on salty food and caffeine as they can also
increase your heart rate, and include supplements into your diet like vitamin
B-6, calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, evening primrose oil and chaste tree berry.
These herbal remedies have all been studied and found to assist women suffering
from PMDD and depression during pregnancy.
Does depression affect your baby?
It’s unknown whether depression itself can affect your baby or whether
medication plays a role, but untreated depression during pregnancy can lead to
premature birth or a low birth weight.Risks with antidepressants during pregnancy are quite low and depend on
the dose and how long you take it.
Preterm birth or pulmonary hypertension
(high blood pressure in a baby’s lungs) are two harmful side effects of
antidepressants. If you’re taking medication during your third trimester, your
baby might experience withdrawal symptoms which are usually mild and only last
for a short time but include breathing issues, irritability, low blood sugar or
Antenatal depression is common
during pregnancy and can bring about a range of uncomfortable and distressing
symptoms including depressive thoughts. The physical, hormonal and emotional
changes during pregnancy can be really hard if you suffer from depression, but
it’s best to speak to your doctor to find a suitable treatment plan that works
for you and your condition. Taking care of yourself is extremely important, as
the pressure of being the ‘perfect mother’ can add to the list of your worries,
which can increase depressive symptoms. Luckily, there are a range of methods
to help ease or eliminate depressive thoughts including therapy, medication and
dietary and lifestyle changes.
Welcome to Babyinfo – the ultimate pregnancy and newborn information guide. We are here to help you find all the pregnancy and baby info you need to make the most beautiful experience of your life even better.
Our team is comprised of an amazing mix of experienced mothers, recently pregnant women, and editors with tremendous medical knowledge in the fields of gynaecology and childbirth.
Think of us as your friendly advisors, here to give you honest, easy to understand and authentic information. We are here to be your support at this crucial time in your life, when you need it the most.
Note: This website is in no way meant to replace doctors, hospitals, or other healthcare providers that may be utilized by current mothers or mothers-to-be. All mothers are advised to see a doctor for medical advice and the appropriate care before, during, and after pregnancy.