Pregnancy is a moment of joy and exciting time for many women. But unfortunately there are few women who feel depressed during their antenatal period. At least one in ten to fifteen women have symptoms of depression as their belly starts growing. Depression during pregnancy is mood disorder which is similar to clinical depression. In some women the symptoms of depression may be mild but in few the symptoms can be severe.
Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can cast its shadow on brain chemicals. Change in brain chemical has direct impact on mood leading to depression and several other mood disorders.The condition often remains undiagnosed as many women consider it as a temporary phenomenon. However, it is important to seek medical care as depression and anxiety can increase the risk of preterm labor as well as physical health of mother and the fetus inside her womb.
Physical Symptoms Of Depression In Pregnancy
Depression can cause a feeling of hopelessness, sadness or difficulty in concentrating. It can also cause physical symptoms which many women miss or simply ignore it to be symptoms of depression. Depressed women during their pregnancy often complain of different types of pain.Backache, headache, joint pains, pain in chest are some of the physical symptoms.
Besides pain, in some pregnant women certain gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, chronic constipation, loss of appetite, diarrhea etc can stem from depression. Depression and anxiety during this period can cause unexplained fatigue and exhaustion.
Weight loss due to reduced appetite or disproportional weight gain due to excess eating, are other physical symptoms that may present with pregnancy.
Causes Of Depression During Pregnancy
There are several factors that may precipitate depression during pregnancy. Women who have previous history of depression are more susceptible to develop this condition when they are pregnant. Common risk factors that trigger this mood disorder are:
- Worries and stress at work place, financial restraints, stressful life events during pregnancy such as death of a relative or a friend, loss of job etc can trigger depression.
- Sexual and physical or verbal abuse during past or present period can cause feeling of hopelessness and anxiety.
- Patient having past history of miscarriage are often fearful with the safety of present pregnancy. They often feel depressed.
- Relationship problems with partner can add more strain during this period.
- Depression during pregnancy is often seen in women living alone or has limited social support.
How To Deal With Depression During Pregnancy?
Depression during pregnancy can be potentially risky for mother as well as for the fetus. If left untreated, it can lead to poor nutrition, habit of alcohol drinking, smoking and suicidal tendencies etc. All this can affect the health of fetus and mother. It increases risk of premature delivery, low birth weight, developmental defects in child etc.
When a pregnant women suspects the symptoms of depression she has to talk to her health care provider. There are many treatment options available to treat the condition. Conventionally certain anti depressant medications are found to be safe for its use during pregnancy. However, other options have equivalent benefit.
- Light therapy is beneficial in many women found to be depressed. A walk in sunlight or exposure to sunlight for 20 minutes in early morning or late evening is found beneficial to boost mood.
- Exercise increases release of feel good hormones in the body. Walking for 30 minutes or swimming is beneficial and it should be included in daily activity.
- Foods containing omega 3 are believed to fight depression. Flax seeds, oats, brown rice, etc are rich source of omega 3, besides sea food. She should also eat more vegetables and fruits and avoid processed food.
- Counseling or talking with a friend about the problems will be helpful in alleviating the symptoms.