Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy and mental health’

Depression during pregnancy: What you can do

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

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.

More information:

A postpartum depression clinic

Monday, August 15th, 2011

The first postpartum depression clinic opens it doors today at a University of North Carolina hospital in Chapel Hill. It is a free-standing perinatal psychiatry unit dedicated to helping moms who suffer from the very serious condition of postpartum depression. This is a big move for supporting women and I hope it is the first of many such clinics to spread across the country.

Getting the blues for a week or so after having a baby is common. But postpartum depression (PPD) is different. It can be extremely sad, lonely, very grim and even dangerous. PPD is not something a woman can control and it is not a sign of being a bad mother. It’s a serious medical condition that needs treatment.

A woman who has postpartum depression feels sad, “down” or depressed. She also has many of the following symptoms lasting 2 weeks or longer:
• Having little interest in her usual activities or hobbies
• Feeling tired all the time
• Changes in how much or how little she wants to eat
• Gaining or losing weight
• Having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
• Having trouble concentrating or making decisions
• Thinking about suicide or death
Postpartum depression doesn’t have to occur immediately after birth. It can begin at any time within many months after delivery. It can seriously threaten both the woman and her baby. Since the mother is seriously ill, she may not be able to care for her baby as she would if she were well. The disease may make it hard for the mother to breastfeed or bond with her baby. For these reasons, postpartum depression is a threat to newborns.

About 1 out of every 8 women has postpartum depression after delivery. It is the most common complication among women who have just had a baby and it amazes me that it has taken so long for the medical community to seriously address it. Go UNC!  Unlike many other hospitals who treat women with PPD alongside schizophrenics and addicts, the UNC clinic understands PPD and these women’s special needs. There are breast pumps and comfortable rocking chairs, individual and family therapy sessions. The mother’s sleep times are protected and extremely important for recovery. While babies will not be allowed to spend the night they will have extended visiting hours so routines can be established even while Mom is hospitalized.  You can read more about the clinic here.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, talk to your health care provider. If necessary, your provider can refer you to a mental health professional. Don’t be shy or embarrassed. Get the help you need and deserve.