Depression does not happen due to anyone’s fault. It is a medical condition that needs to be treated to get better. Depression can occur due to any stressful situation in life. Sometimes counselling helps to prevent depression. If depression during pregnancy is not treated, it can cause problems for the baby, like premature birth.
What is depression?
Depression refers to a medical condition when a person generally faces sadness and loses interest in different things. It can affect the person’s thoughts as well as lifestyle. Perinatal depression refers to depression during pregnancy or the first year after giving birth to a baby. Depression is the most common medical complication suffered by pregnant women. It affects up to 15% of women.
If perinatal depression is left untreated, it can cause problems for the woman and her baby. If any women feel that she is depressed, then she should consult a physician.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION?
Major depression is more than just feeling low for few days. If the signs and symptoms last for more than two weeks, a person may suffer from depression.
Following are the signs and symbols of the depression:
- Changes in the feelings
- If one feels sad, hopeless, or overwhelmed
- If one feels restless or moody
- If a person cries a lot
- If a person feels worthless or guilty
- If a person has a thought of killing himself/herself
- Changes in everyday life
- Eating more or less than you usually eat
- Facing problem in remembering things, concentrating, or making decisions
- Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- If a person is no longer interested in doing the thing that he/she usually like to do
- Transformations in the physique
- Having no strength and feeling exhausted all the time
- If a person suffers from headaches, stomach issues, or other aches and pain for a more extended
If a woman is pregnant and has any of these symptoms, she should consult a healthcare provider before the situation worsens. The healthcare provider will advise on how to come out of depression.
CAN DEPRESSION DURING PREGNANCY AFFECT THE MOTHER AND HER BABY?
Yes, depression can affect the mother as well as her baby. Depression during pregnancy can lead a woman to face the following problems:
- Miscarriage (death of the baby inside mother’s womb),
- Delivery of the baby before the due date (preterm),
- Giving birth to a baby that has meagre weight.
If depression is not treated during pregnancy, it can cause postpartum depression, which means depression even after having a baby. If depression is not treated at the right time, it can create problems for the mother and her baby. If a woman takes antidepressants before getting pregnant or during the pregnancy period, then a doctor’s consultation is critical. If the mother took antidepressants during pregnancy, then the newborn babies may have symptoms such as irritability, fast breathing, tremors, and poor feeding.
WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION?
The exact reason for depression is precisely unknown; it can be a combination of different things, like changing chemicals in the brain or changing hormones. Hormones are chemicals made by the body. Some hormones may affect the part of the brain that controls emotions and mood.
Depression can be caused due to numerous reasons. Some of the possible reasons for depressions are as follows:
• Life events
Life events such as prolonged unemployment, experiencing abusive or uncaring relationships, loneliness, and long-term work stress are the ingredients of depression than the recent life stress. Depression can be caused due to one reason, or it can be a combination of events. Depression can trigger a person if he/she has inadequate experience in the past or personal factors.
• Personal factors
- Family history- Depression can be due to family reasons. Different situations of life and other
personal factors may have a significant influence.
- Personality- Some people may face depression because of their personality, mainly if a person
tends to worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are a perfectionist, are sensitive to personal criticism,
or are self-critical and pessimistic.
- Serious medical illness- The stress and worry of coping with severe disease can lead to
depression, especially if a person with long-term management and chronic pain.
- Drug and alcohol use- Drug and alcohol use can both lead to result in depression. Most people
with depression have drug and alcohol problems.
HOW IS DEPRESSION TREATED DURING PREGNANCY?
It is best if a group of therapists treats depression during pregnancy. When the therapist works together, the baby gets the best care. The healthcare providers may be:
- Prenatal care provider- This type of provider gives general medical care.
- Primary care provider- This is the leading healthcare provider who gives general medical care.
- Mental health providers – They may be a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, counsellor, or therapist.
- Baby’s health care provider.
Depression can be treated by adopting different ways. The healthcare provider may adopt a combination of treatments instead of choosing one particular treatment.
Treatment may include the following:
- Counselling such as CBT and IPT
- Support groups- these are groups of people who gather together physically or through an online mode to express and share all the feelings and experiences about specific topics. Any person can ask their counsellor or healthcare provider to find out a support group.
- Medicine- Usually, depression is treated with medicines called antidepressants. If a woman is pregnant, then she has to consult her doctor before taking any antidepressants.
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) – In this therapy, a current is passed through the brain. This treatment is considered reliable during pregnancy.
FACING DEPRESSION DURING PREGNANCY
Pregnancy comes with joy, excitement, and the wonder of a new life. But for some women, pregnancy is shaded by depression. It is a condition which not only puts the mother at risk but her baby also. Women suffering from depression face ongoing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, and soon decreased appetite and sleeping problems.
Fortunately, an expectant mother can come out of this situation. Hopefully, psychotherapy and antidepressant medication and help cure depression caused during pregnancy. During pregnancy, doctors generally try to keep away women from antidepressants unless they have severe depression.
UNTREATED DEPRESSION IS RISKY
If a pregnant woman is suffering from depression, then it should be treated as soon as possible. Usually, women who have battled significant depression in their past are more likely to experience the same during their pregnancy period.
If a woman does not eat well during her pregnancy period, it could hurt the developing fetus.
ANTIDEPRESSANTS DURING PREGNANCY
Certain drugs can cure depression with little to no risk to an unborn child. No evidence suggests that antidepressants during pregnancy are risky. It is better to avoid antidepressants, as it is entirely not safe during pregnancy. The steps to come out of depression should be taken only with the consultation of the doctor. So that both the mother and baby are safe.
Antara Chowdhury is a Content Marketer and Strategist with 6 years of experience. She is Master degree holder in Journalism and wants to explore everything she can write on.