We perhaps hear more about depression after pregnancy or post natal depression rather than depression in pregnancy; the sort that happens during the nine months of pregnancy.
Earlier it was believed that pregnancy was a time of boundless joy for women and that they were protected against depression by certain pregnancy hormones.
Now however we know that many women are troubled by depression in pregnancy, which can be quite common and as many as one in ten pregnant women may have bouts of depression.
The understanding is that the great hormonal upheavals that are typically experienced by women at the start of the pregnancy, could alter brain chemistry, and be the cause of depressive episodes.
In particular if a woman is already exhibiting depressive symptoms or has issues with poor self image, these problems could be made worse during pregnancy, with the extra anxiety it can bring along with it.
There can be new physical, emotional, sexual, financial and marital pressures that can come along with pregnancy, which may increase chances of going into depression in pregnancy.
Other factors that can increase a woman’s possibility of depression in pregnancy are if a woman has a family or personal history of depression. If she is undergoing some personal difficulties or a rough patch in a relationship, or if her pregnancy was unplanned or accidental, this could add to the possibility of depression.
If she has had a previous pregnancy loss or miscarriage then this could also increase her chance of becoming depressed. Any unresolved issues with regard to abuse, emotional, sexual or physical could also increase a woman’s chances of getting depressed when pregnant.
While mild bouts of anxiety, or moodiness or just getting the blues may not be anything to worry greatly over, when depression becomes more severe and is persistent, then it needs the attention of a trained professional.
The general thumb rule to detecting depression in pregnancy is, it needs attention if it is of a longer duration, and causes such sadness and anxiety as to interfere with day to day activities, work, sleep, eating etc. There could be thoughts of self harm, or suicide, extreme mood swings, difficulty concentrating, unpredictable or unusual behavior that could indicate depression.
The reason that depression in pregnancy ought never to be ignored is the fact that it can potentially impact the health of both mother and the unborn baby in a negative way. It is important resolve issues of depression in pregnancy since they could be the cause of several problems such as –
- A depressed woman may not get and get the antenatal and prenatal care that she requires and this could lead to complications.
- Women who are depressed are much more likely to abuse alcohol, cigarettes, and even drugs which can be very dangerous to do during pregnancy – for the baby in particular.
- Studies have shown that the risk of having a preterm birth, miscarriage, or pregnancy high blood pressure increase with depression in pregnancy that is left untreated.