Depression is a serious medical condition that can affect how you feel, think and act. People with depression feel sad and lose interest in the activities they used to enjoy. Depression is far more common than many of us realize. It affects about 15 percent of women during pregnancy and the year after giving birth. Women who have depression before they conceive are at a higher risk of having depression during pregnancy than other women.
What can you do?
Learn the signs and symptoms of depression during pregnancy. Having major depression is different than feeling down for a few days. The signs or symptoms of depression last for more than two weeks. These are the signs and symptoms to look for:
Changes in the way you feel
- Feeling sad, hopeless or overwhelmed
- Feeling agitated or moody
- Crying all the time
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Thinking about death or suicide
Changes in your everyday life
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Eating habits and appetite change (more or less than usual)
- Having trouble concentrating, remembering things or making decisions
- Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep
- Losing interest in things you used to do
Changes in your body
- Feeling tired all the time or having no energy
- Having stomach problems, headaches or other pains that don’t go away
Some of the signs and symptoms of depression may be similar to those normally found in pregnancy. For instance, changes in appetite and trouble sleeping are common when you are pregnant. Nonetheless, if you are pregnant and have any of these signs or symptoms, talk to your health care provider right away. Depression is a serious condition, and it can be dangerous for you and your baby if it’s not detected and treated on time.
Your provider can recommend different treatments or a combination of treatments. Some of them are: counseling (therapy), support groups, or medications. It is best that you and your provider discuss all these options and decide together what treatment is best and safe for you and your baby. You can also ask your provider to talk to your mental health provider to tailor a treatment plan according to your needs.
Note about antidepressants: Some research shows that taking an antidepressant during pregnancy may increase the risk of certain birth defects in your baby. However, if you’ve been taking an antidepressant, don’t stop taking the medicine without talking to your provider first. Not taking your medicine may be harmful to your baby, and it may make your depression to come back.
- Treating for two: Safe medication use in pregnancy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Depression during and after pregnancy: A resource for women, their families and friends from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Office of Maternal and Child Health
- Mental Health America
- mothertobaby.org, Medications and more during pregnancy and breastfeeding from the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS)
- National Alliance on Mental Illness, 800-950-NAMI (6264)
- National Institute of Mental Health
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-TALK (8255)
- Substance and Mental Health Services Administration