Depression during Pregnancy

The way we look about pregnancy is that it is one of the most exciting parts of a woman’s life. Yes it is, but unfortunately not for some. There are many pregnant women who are having pregnancy as the time for fear, confusion, stress, and depression. The American Congress of Obstetrician and Gynecologists or ACOG declared that up to 14 to 23% of pregnant women will encounter some symptoms of depression while she is pregnant.

Depression is a kind of mood disorder and it affects one out of four women at some point of her life and it is not surprising if pregnant women will be touched by this affliction. Unfortunately, it is very common that depression is not properly diagnosed during pregnancy because many people think that it is just another kind of hormonal imbalance.

This kind of belief can be risky for the mother and the baby.


Take note that depression in pregnancy is a kind of illness that should be taken seriously. This kind of illness can be prevented, treated, and managed. But it is crucial to find support and help first. Unfavorably, research about this subject reveals that only 20% of pregnant women who suffers depression seek treatment.

What is depression during pregnancy?

Depression during pregnancy is also widely known as antepartum depression. It is a disorder in a frame of mind just like the clinical depression. Depression is a biological type of illness. It entails changes in the brain chemistry. Due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, your brain can experience a chemical changes that has a direct relations to anxiety and depression.

Who are most prone to have a depression during pregnancy?

  1. Difficulties with the pregnancy. A high risk or complicated pregnancy can be such an emotional pursuit, especially if you are suffering of being compelled to stay in bed for weeks and undergoing with lots of medical tests. The burden of having to stand challenging procedures mingled with apprehensions about what is going on and what is going to happen with your baby is often hard to bear. Moreover, not being able to do the things that you usually do can make it more challenging to hold your emotional welfare.
  2. Family or personal history of anxiety or depression. If you have had experience in the past with utmost anxiety or depression, or if depression runs in your blood, you are more possibly to experience depression now that you are pregnant. Even if you did not experience being overly depressed but have an inclination to be so down or anxious during challenging times, you have more tendencies to become depressed now that you are expecting.
  3. Fertility treatments. Women who have had a hard time getting pregnant can be under a lot of pressure especially if you have gone through several fertility procedures. Now that you are finally pregnant, it may be harder for you to fight the fear of losing the baby that you have tried to conceive for several times. All that is going inside your head also goes into your emotional being and that makes you more prone to depression.
  4. Difficulties in relationship. If your relationship is not going very well, please do not assume that your pregnancy will somehow heal both of you and your relationship because it will certainly won’t or should I say it seldom does (to be fair for those who had the experience). There is a greater tendency that the baby will only add to the pressure on your relationship. It can be very hard and will make you more susceptible to depression because it is your partner that should be your source of strength but be smart enough to take the responsibility and work on seeking support from others like your family, friends, and even your professional counselor and health providers.
  5. Life events that is full of stress. There are so many life events that can cause you emotional tornado like financial concerns, employment issues, moving from one residency to another, death of a friend or family member. And almost any major life concerns and changes can lead to depression.
  6. History of being abused.
  7. Hormones
  8. Genetics
  9. History of losing a pregnancy
  10. Thyroid condition

Signs and symptoms of depression during pregnancy

  • Never ending fatigue. Feeling like you are so tired every day
  • Trouble putting yourself to sleep or sleeping most of the time
  • Sense of sadness as if nothing feels to be enjoyable or fun
  • Hopelessness
  • Failing in handling your tasks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself
  • Feeling so blue and empty almost every single day
  • Having a hard time to concentrate
  • Intense irritability and excess crying
  • Over eating or not having the urge to eat
  • Unnecessary feeling of guilt
  • Feeling worthless
  • Panic attacks
  • Losing interest in the things that you usually enjoy doing
  • Withdrawing yourself from family and friends
  • Thinking about death and suicide
  • Missing your prenatal appointments and not following medical guidelines
  • Using harmful elements like alcohol, tobacco, and prohibited drugs

How can you help yourself to prevent suffering from depression during pregnancy?

Depression is a biochemical condition and it may be hard to totally avoid it but taking care of oneself emotionally can bring a significant effect in preventing or easing the symptoms. Pay attention to these following tips to help you prevent being depressed:

Pregnancy week by week
  1. Do not hesitate to express how you feel and what are you thinking. Air it out with your friends, family, and most importantly, your partner. When you talk, you will discover that your family, friends, and your partner care so much about you and that they will do all they can to make you feel better by giving some perspective and providing help. You will also find out that by simply talking about your worries will make it seem easy to overcome.

Make sure to take time to converse with other pregnant women who understand exactly what you are going through. Use the power of technology by joining an online community for pregnant women and you can also participate in blogs thru comment and chats.

  1. Take time and take it easy. Do not pressure yourself to do so many tasks. You do not have to complete all tasks at once. Remember, you have nine months to prepare all you have to do is write down everything and work on it one day at a time. Arrange your lists according to priority and timing. Give yourself enough time to do something that you love doing like reading a book, watching movies, eating out with your friends, family, and partner. Choose to do something that makes you feel good.
  2. Regular work out releases chemical called endorphins that makes you feels good and boosts your mood. So do it daily and it will also help to do different kind of physical activity everyday like long walk today, swimming tomorrow, and yoga the next day.
  3. Watch what you eat. It is very important to eat only good foods while you are pregnant. It will help you feel light and a sense of confidence that you are giving yourself and your baby inside things that are only good. Avoid bad and dirty elements like cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, and harmful drugs.

Can depression during pregnancy cause complications?

Some women chooses not to seek help or treatment for several reasons like shame, embarrassment, guilt, or because they think that depression is normal when pregnant and that they think that it will just go away. But studies reveal that undertreated and untreated pregnancy depression can lead to a various potential complications to the mother and the baby.

Potential complications that depression can cause to your baby:

  • Premature birth
  • Poor adaptation once the baby comes out of your womb, like jitteriness and respiratory distress.
  • Getting a low APGAR score
  • Low birth weight

Possible risks to the mother:

  • Postpartum depression
  • Pregnancy termination
  • Use of harmful substance such as alcohol, tobacco, and prohibited drugs.
  • Inability to bond with the baby
  • Losing the desire to take care of oneself
  • Preterm labor
  • Having a Cesarean section
  • Preeclampsia
  • Suicide

Treatment options for depression during pregnancy

You do not have to suffer with depression during your entire pregnancy period, since there are many effective remedies available. There are two major types of approach available, such as listed below. Since not every woman is the same, your doctor will work on finding out which is the best approach or combination of approaches that will best help you.

  1. Non-medical approach
    1. A skilled therapist will help you learn new skills and approaches on how to manage your emotions and thoughts.
    2. Light therapy. The patient will be exposed to sunlight or artificial sunlight at particular times of the day which help to increase the level of mood- regulating hormone called serotonin produced in the brain to support relieved the symptoms of depression.
    3. Omega-3. An essential fatty acid. Omega-3 can be found in foods like walnuts and oily fish. Omega-3 has a natural mood-booster.
    4. It is a Chinese practice where needles are involved. The needles are being placed into certain areas of the body and proved to influence a person’s mood.
    5. It is highly recommended to any person suffering from depression to be able to express their feeling and breathed out in their own words what or how they are feeling. It also helps the doctor to assess their symptoms and severity.
    6. Other approaches:
      • Spending time with your friends, family, and partner.
      • Taking it easy by engaging in relaxing activities.
      • Mindful yoga
      • Meditation
      • Joining support groups
      • Rest as much as you can
      • Herbal remedies
      • Going outdoors
      • Exercise
      • Get a good nutritions
  1. Medical approach. Many women can overcome depression without medication but there are some cases in which Psychotherapy alone is not sufficient to help the patient. Following are the list of cases that may put you into medications:
    1. When the expectant mother has a suicidal tendencies.
    2. When the patient has the history of moderate to severe depression.
    3. When the mother’s depression affects the welfare and happiness of her other child or children.
    4. When the depression affects her ability to manage her own basic needs like eating, taking shower, and going to her doctor’s appointment.

You should know that all medications a woman take during pregnancy will cross the placenta and will reach the baby inside the womb. If you are suffering from depression, work closely with your doctor to make sure that you and your baby will make it safely unto the end of your pregnancy.