For those who want children and dream of becoming parents, pregnancy is the promise of a dream that is slowly coming to fruition. While there are some issues such as tender breasts and stretch marks, women are willing to endure these for the sake of reaching their goal. But what happens if the condition that crops up is depression? Professionals such as Dr. Alisa Ward in Frisco, TX recommend studying and developing a better understanding of depression to ensure you can identify it should you experience its symptoms. Here are some important facts about pregnancy and depression that you should understand.
First, What is Depression?
Depression is a medical condition that causes people to lose interest in activities they used to love and creates feelings of sadness and numbness. It interferes with daily life, but it affects how people act, feel, and think. Depression during pregnancy affects 15% of women and is one of the most common medical complications that can also cause issues for the baby if left untreated.
How are Both the Mother and Baby Affected?
Depression can lead to the mother taking up unhealthy habits during her pregnancy, such as taking drugs, drinking alcohol, or smoking. It also puts mothers at risk as they are less likely to not eat enough to put on the recommended weight during their pregnancy. If severe, depression during pregnancy can lead to thoughts of suicide, or result in the mother committing suicide.
Depression during pregnancy can lead to learning, development, mental conditions, and behavior problems later on in life. In the more immediate future, it increases the risk of premature birth or results in overall low birth weight for the baby.
What Causes Depression?
While depression is more common in those who have a family history of depression, researchers aren’t sure to the exact cause of depression in pregnancy for those who do not have a family history of depression. But, some potential reasons could be altered brain chemicals or brain hormones that control the mood and emotional centers.
What are the Signs and Symptoms to Watch for?
If one or more of these signs last for more than two weeks, then they may qualify as signs of depression.
- Aches or pains that don’t go away
- No energy or feeling tired all the time
- Eating more than you usually do
- Eating less than you usually do
- Issues with memory, decisions, and concentration
- Sleeping too much
- Social withdrawal
- Excessive crying
- Excessive sadness
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Feeling worthless
- Thinking about death or suicide
What To Do
While health care providers screen for depression at least once during pregnancy, be sure to bring it up when you contact your doctor. Depression is not your fault and it is important to seek help for your emotional, physical, and mental health.
There are a number of treatment options available for pregnant women who are suffering from depression. These include support groups, acupuncture, getting enough rest, diet and nutrition, exercise, light therapy, fish oil supplements, herbal remedies such as St. John’s Wort, private psychotherapy, and medication that has no effect on the fetus growing within.
Depression is a silent enemy that sometimes takes over a person’s life so slowly that they don’t even notice it. Other times, the person does notice how they have been feeling but don’t realize how long the symptoms have persisted and what repercussions could happen if they don’t treat their depression. While treating your depression is important for the sake of the baby, your own emotional and mental health is just as important.