Prenatal depression, also known as antenatal depression, can affect women from the time they become pregnant and throughout their pregnancy. It is also possible that left untreated, prenatal depression can have a detrimental impact on a developing baby’s birth weight and other vital health factors. As a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and a qualified Reproductive Psychiatrist, I would like to talk to you about the signs of prenatal depression and help you find the care you need if you suspect it may be affecting you.
Prenatal Depression: Onset, Causes and Characteristic Symptoms
Virtually all women who get pregnant expect common symptoms like nausea and fatigue. But other problems, particularly tearfulness and insomnia, can be indicative of prenatal depression. In rare cases, paranoia can even set in during pregnancy. Although prenatal and postnatal depression share similar types of symptoms, researchers believe that the severity of sadness and sleeplessness experienced by prenatal depression sufferers suggests that the prenatal form of depression has its own unique symptoms.
Other problems that can indicate prenatal depression include a lack of energy, feelings of guilt, fear that a partner may leave after the birth of the baby, loss of interest in sex, and chronic anxiety. As is the case with most psychological ailments, prenatal depression can manifest in different ways with different patients. It can be helpful to most women to be aware of their changing physical condition, and to avoid blaming themselves for the feelings—physical and emotional—brought on by pregnancy.
Becoming pregnant can trigger and exacerbate a host of concerns: worries about being a new mother, worries about a developing baby’s health, worries about relationships, and financial concerns can all trigger bouts of depression. Statistics show that up to 15% of all pregnant women experience prenatal depression, and that of the ones who do suffer from it, 50% go on to experience postpartum depression as well.
Treatment Focus: Reproductive Psychiatric Specialist
Basic self-care that is obvious when a woman is not under stress can be more elusive once she becomes pregnant. If you think you are beginning to experience depression, it is vital plan a routine that allows time for the following:
- Time spent discussing your pregnancy with your partner
- Being open about your concerns regarding the pregnancy
- Appropriate exercise and exposure to sunshine
- Proper nutrition
- Creating a sleep routine and practicing good sleep hygiene
Having seen many women who have suffered from prenatal depression in my practice, I can assure you that the majority of them benefit from a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. Taking medication during pregnancy should be done only under the guidance of a doctor, and in the case of prenatal depression it is paramount to see a reproductive specialist. To minimize risk to both mother her developing baby, a doctor must evaluate the benefit to the patient versus the potential side effects from the medication.
If you would like to discuss prenatal depression or any other mental health challenges, please call me at (917) 609-4990 or email me at Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org for general questions.
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff
For additional information, please feel free to email our office at Amanda.Itzkoff@gmail.com.
To schedule an appointment, call our offices at 917-609-4990.