Depression during pregnancy can pose risks for both the mother and the baby. For some women, depression in this period can be extreme, especially in those with previous histories of depression. Treatment for the condition is available, and usually involves a team of professionals who will help the mother at every step.
Depression affects our mind and body. It can have negative effects on our self-esteem and self-perception. It is a serious illness that can interfere with ones personal and working life. Some forms of the condition are, of course, less severe than others, but should still not be taken lightly.
Risks during pregnancy
Depression can cause serious problems during pregnancy. For example, a mother might experience preeclampsia, a type of high blood pressure that can cause severe physical problems. Some might also develop poor eating habits and, in extreme cases, the mother might even attempt or consider suicide. Those suffering from depression are less likely to provide proper care for their child. Negative consequences for the baby’s initial development might also occur.
Symptoms of depression include lack of sleep or, conversely, oversleeping. One might experience guilt, lack of energy, concentration problems, restlessness, sluggishness and a general lack of interest. Some will entertain thoughts of suicide.
Depression can be hard to diagnose during pregnancy, since many of the above symptoms can also naturally occur in pregnant women who are not depressed. Some other medical conditions also lead to similar symptoms - for example, anemia or thyroid problems.
For some women, attending support or discussion groups might be enough to deal with their problems. This is especially true for those suffering from mild depression. Seasonal affective disorder can be treated with light therapy. Another form of therapy used to combat depression is electroconvulsive therapy, although this is generally only used in severe cases.
Some antidepressant medications might also be employed. Included in this category are drugs such as Prozac, Pamelor, Paxil and Tofranil. However, if this kind of medication is taken, it is important to remember that the drug will be affecting two people - mother and unborn child. Medications that are safe for the mother can occasionally be dangerous to the fetus. Some problems that the baby might experience as a consequence of medication include heart problems, low weight and high blood pressure.
In some cases, herbs such as St John’s wort are used in order to combat depression during pregnancy. However, studies are inconclusive as regards the effects of this type of treatment.