Depression During Pregnancy Risks Women Need to Know

Last modified: August 2, 2019

Richard Honaker M.D.
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Depression during pregnancy can take a variety of forms, and it is indeed a serious health issue.

However, knowing the symptoms and the treatment options available to combat depression during pregnancy is vital to you and your baby’s health.

Depression During Pregnancy Becoming as Prevalent as Postpartum Depression

Much of the mental health discussion for pregnant women encompasses postpartum depression (PPD).

PPD will affect 11 to 20 percent of pregnant women each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The average would be roughly rounded to 15 percent, or 600,000 pregnant women.

Depression during pregnancy, however, has become a topic among healthcare professionals, researchers, and pregnant women as of late.


Know the Signs and Symptoms of Depression During Pregnancy

The CDC found that one in nine women experience depression during pregnancy, as well as pre and post depression. It is vital for you and your baby’s health to know the signs and symptoms of depression during pregnancy.

Simply feeling down or sad is certainly an indicator of possible depression. However, feeling down may not be the first or principal symptom.

“Depression doesn’t feel the same for everyone. Some people may experience a few symptoms, and others might experience many,” the CDC notes. “How often symptoms occur, how long they last, and how intense they may feel can be different for each person.”

Signs and symptoms of depression during pregnancy include:

  • Feeling helpless
  • Irritable and restless
  • No interest in hobbies or activities
  • No energy
  • Feeling down and anxious for a long period
  • Feeling hopeless or negative
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Problems concentrating
  • Problems recalling details
  • Unable to make decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Suicide attempts
  • Soreness and pain that doesn’t go away
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Overeating or no appetite

There was a recent study linking depression and gestational diabetes. This makes treatment for depression during pregnancy a very important consideration.

Treating Depression During Your 9 Months of Pregnancy Has Risks and Benefits

Identifying and treating depression during pregnancy is vital, since impacts you and your baby. Treatment does have risks, as antidepressants, psychotherapy, and even no treatment are all potential ways to battle depression during pregnancy.

“As a neuroscientist and epidemiologist who studies the long-term effects of various prenatal exposures, I have seen that, even though the choices are not always easy, there are a number of effective options for treatment,” says Ardesheer Talati, assistant professor of clinical neurobiology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.

Depression During Pregnancy Risks Women Need to Know

Treatments for depression during pregnancy include:

  • Antidepressants. SSRIs are among the most common antidepressants to treat depression. Even during pregnancy. Using these medications does have some risk, despite them being deemed generally safe by doctors.
  • Psychotherapy. Many pregnant women will not risk taking antidepressants to treat their depression during pregnancy. They will often turn to psychotherapy as an alternative treatment option. There have been significant positive findings for this route, and certainly worth discussing with your doctor about.
  • No treatment. Depending on your doctor’s findings, no treatment may be the best treatment. It is important to always consult with your doctor if you are experiencing depression. You can talk to a doctor online as well, discussing a wealth of pregnancy issues you may not be comfortable discussing with your doctor too.

Understand the signs and symptoms of depression before, during, and after your pregnancy. The health of you and your baby depend on it. Find out more about pregnancy issues, tips and medical advice to stay informed and ready for anything being pregnant throws your way.

Submitted by Dr. Richard Honaker:

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.

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