Did you know that as many as 1 out of 5 women have symptoms of depression during pregnancy? For some women, those symptoms are severe. In pregnancy, women who have been depressed before are at higher risk of depression than other women. It’s not always the blissful, blossoming time that we’ve read about or seen in the movies.
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood and thought. It affects the way a woman feels about herself and the way she thinks about things. Depression is a serious medical condition. It poses risks for both mom and baby. But a range of treatments is available, including therapy, support groups and medications.
It’s usually best for a team of health care professionals to work with a pregnant woman who is depressed or who has a history of depression. Team members include:
• The provider who is caring for her during her pregnancy
• A mental health professional
• The provider who will take care of the baby after birth
Together, the team and the pregnant woman decide what is best for her and her baby.
Often a pregnant woman wonders whether antidepressant drugs, such as Zoloft and Prozac, will harm her baby or herself. There are no simple answers. Each woman and her health care providers must work together to make the best decision for her and her baby. The drugs used to treat depression have both risks and benefits that must be weighed in every individual case.
IMPORTANT: If you are taking an antidepressant and find that you are pregnant, do not stop taking your medication without first talking to your health provider. Call him or her as soon as you discover that you’re expecting. It may be unhealthy to stop taking an antidepressant suddenly.
To learn more, read our article that addresses two types of depression: major depression (a serious illness that interferes with a person’s ability to work, study, sleep, eat and enjoy oneself) and milder forms of depression that are less severe.