While many women experience the elation that one might expect with pregnancy, other women experience fear, sadness, and depression. In fact, up to 23% of women struggle with some symptoms of depression during pregnancy. Unfortunately, depression in pregnancy is often misdiagnosed as another type of hormonal imbalance. It is extremely important for mother and baby to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment.
What is Depression in Pregnancy?
Depression in pregnancy is a mood disorder not unlike clinical depression. Mood disorders, like depression, are biological illnesses that are brought about by changes in brain chemistry. During pregnancy, hormone changes affect brain chemicals and can cause anxiety and depression.
What are the Symptoms of Depression in Pregnancy?
Women with depression generally experience some of the following symptoms:
• Difficulty concentrating
• Change in eating habits
• Persistent sadness
• Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or hopelessness
• Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
• Loss of interest in activities
• Changes in sleep patterns
If you are experiencing these symptoms for 2 weeks or more, seek professional treatment immediately.
Can Depression Harm the Baby?
If left untreated, depression can pose potential adverse risks to both mother and baby. This can lead to poor nutrition and other negative behaviors that can cause premature birth, low birth weight, and developmental problems. Furthermore, babies born to depressed mothers may also be less active and can be more irritable than babies born to mothers who are not depressed.
What is the Treatment for Depression in Pregnancy?
Seeking professional help is crucial for mother and baby. It’s important to speak with your OB/GYN and a psychiatrist who is trained in treating women during pregnancy about your symptoms and struggles so that the proper treatment can be received. Your psychiatrist will work closely with you during this time to devise an appropriate treatment plan, which may include more frequent monitoring, to ensure that both mother and baby stay healthy.
Are Medications Safe During Pregnancy?
It’s important to know that any medication taken during pregnancy will reach the baby. Be sure to ask your mental health professional about the potential side effects and about the affects to the baby. Always remember to weigh out the possibilities of problems in the future versus the problems that may occur now if your depression is not treated appropriately.
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff is trained in Psychotherapy and Psychopharmacology in New York, and can help you move beyond the frequent frustrations or limitations that may be caused by depression in pregnancy. If you are looking for more information on depression in pregnancy, please feel free to contact us via email. To schedule a consultation, please contact our office at 917-609-4990. .