For many women, pregnancy should preferably be a happy period in their lives. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Across the world, at least 10% of pregnant women struggle with depression. Misconceptions that women do not experience mood disorders during pregnancy, delay treatment. The assumptions are dangerous for both the mother and the unborn baby. Fortunately, depression is a diagnosable and treatable illness. The treatments may include therapy, alternative medicine, and antidepressants.
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Causes of Depression During Pregnancy
There are several reasons you may have depression during pregnancy, including abuse, relationship struggles, treatments, loss of previous pregnancies, and a history of depression.
If you’re struggling with depression during your pregnancy, you may experience the following;
- Endless sadness.
- Sleeping too much or too little.
- Feelings of anxiety, worthlessness, hopelessness, and suicide.
- Struggling to concentrate.
- Loss of interest in activities you enjoy.
Without treatment, depression can lead to suicidal behavior, poor nutrition, drug and substance abuse, alcohol intake, and a severe loss of will to care for yourself and the baby.
Diagnosing Depression During Pregnancy
If you suspect that you’re depressed or that someone you know is depressed, it’s crucial to seek a diagnosis. Usually, depression in pregnant women is commonly overlooked due to a similarity between depression symptoms and somatic experiences during pregnancy. It’s widely known that pregnant women experience changes in sleep patterns, appetite, weight, and concentration- these are somatic experiences.
Depressive disorders also display the same symptoms. Therefore, the overlap between the symptoms makes it challenging to diagnose pregnant women with depression. However, using non-somatic symptoms such as suicidal thoughts and a lack of interest in the baby can help in diagnosis.
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Treating Depression During Pregnancy
Both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic methods of treatment can help with depression during pregnancy.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Studies have shown that alternative treatments are beneficial in the treatment of depression among pregnant women. The treatments include light therapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture. These are great for women who do not wish or may not be able to take antidepressants. However, they may not work for all.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
IPT helps you deal with personal issues in your life, such as the relationship with your spouse, family, and friends. It can also help you cope with sudden changes in your life, such as the loss of a loved one or the presence of a medical condition. IPT is especially useful when the transition to motherhood is difficult for the mother.
Interpersonal therapy focuses on improving social relationships and providing support, problem-solving, and goal setting. As a patient, you may go through role-playing to identify how you interact with others and how you make decisions.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that manages thought by making changes to thinking patterns. It works to treat depression by helping you react to situations healthily. Being depressed during pregnancy could change your moods, causing you or feel hopeless, worthless, and suicidal.
CBT helps you identify the things that cause you to have negative feelings and find a solution for them. Instead of merely talking about feelings and experiences, CBT finds pragmatic solutions and breaks the cycle on negative thinking. It also focuses on current issues rather than on past experiences. Also, the therapist finds a solution with you rather than recommending a solution.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin, and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are conventional pharmacologic treatments for depression during pregnancy. Physicians may also recommend tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Antidepressants change the chemical composition of the brain. However, care should be taken when recommending medication for pregnant women. Like many other drugs, antidepressants move across the placenta and have effects on the unborn baby.
There are various categories for pregnancy safety that are beneficial during antidepressant treatment. In category A, the risks have not been identified due to the lack of controlled trials. Category B involves identifiable risks, though not in humans but animal studies. In categories C and D, there is a risk. In category X, the risks outweigh the benefits of the antidepressants.
Currently, the treatments exist for categories C, and D. SSRIs such as fluoxetine, sertraline, and citalopram are common recommendations. TCAs, SNRIs, MAOIs, and other medications, such as bupropion, are also used.
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When you undergo treatment, your physician considers several factors. For example, during the first trimester, the fetus is at high risk of teratogenesis- the malformation of skeletal structure and organs. As such, it’s essential to consider a safety rating before administering medication.
There are also concerns about poor neonatal adaptation, a set of symptoms in neonates whose mothers are exposed to SSRIs and SNRIs in the third trimester. These symptoms include tremors, jitteriness, seizures, feeding difficulties, excessive crying, and respiratory problems. For these reasons, it’s wise to seek treatment from professional physicians.
Treating treatment for depression is critical for you and your baby’s health. At Mango Clinic, we help you cope with depression during pregnancy through an arrangement of treatments. Contact us at Mango Clinic for depression treatment or click the banner below to book your appointment.