Depression during pregnancy is often considered to be a hormonal imbalance. For most women, pregnancy becomes confusing, stressful, and fearful and they are unable to enjoy the happiest time in a woman’s life.
Mood depression is common, however prenatal depression, if not diagnosed, could be dangerous for the mother as well as for the unborn baby. One needs help and support to treat the depression during pregnancy which is a form of illness.
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Causes of depression during pregnancy
Antepartum depression or depression during pregnancy is a mood disorder which causes changes in the chemistry of the brain. When there are hormonal changes, it tends to affect the chemicals in the brain which leads to anxiety and depression. These get worse with the woman’s life situation causing her to suffer from pregnancy depression.
The prenatal depression causes could be aggravated because of:
- Problems in relationship
- History of depression
- Previous pregnancy loss or infertility treatments
- Stressful life
- Complication in pregnancy
Depression during pregnancy – Signs
Women should look out for these signs to know if they are suffering from pregnancy depression:
- Feeling sad persistently
- Problem in concentrating
- Too less or too much sleep
- Loss of interest in activities
- Thoughts of hopelessness and suicide
- Worthless or guilty feeling
- Changes in eating patterns and habits
Is pregnancy depression harmful?
Prenatal depression, if left untreated, can be very dangerous and risky. It can harm both the mother and the child. Untreated depression leads to drinking, smoking or poor nutrition. The mother can also have suicidal behaviours. All these lead to a premature baby with low birth weight. The child may also have development problems. A woman who is depressed is unable to take care of herself as well as of her developing baby. Babies who are born to women who suffered from prenatal depression may be less active; more agitated or may have a less attention span. This is why one should seek immediate medical help if they feel depressed during pregnancy.
Your health care expert can guide you on what is best for the baby and you and will suggest treatment options to combat depression.
Natural ways of treating prenatal depression
Women can look to treat depression during pregnancy without taking any antidepressants. They could join support groups, get physical psychotherapy or light therapy. This can help to treat those suffering from mild depression.
The other natural ways of getting relief are:
- Getting adequate rest and setting up a routine sleep pattern
- Following proper diet and nutrition – Taking care to avoid caffeine and including food that can help one feel better and provide nutrition
- Omega 3 fatty acid supplements to decrease the symptoms of depression
- Taking herbal remedies
Medications to treat depression
Some medications that are used to treat prenatal depression can lead to defects in the unborn child such as physical malformations, pulmonary hypertension, and heart problems. For those who have a mild depression, natural methods are the best way to treat them. However, those who suffer from severe depression would need a mix of psychotherapy and medications. The medications that offer maximum benefits with very low risk for the baby should only be considered.