Many women dream of the day they become pregnant. They imagine the excitement of a growing baby in their belly, the cravings, the pregnant glow and the bonding that would occur between husband and wife. Most have heard of postpartum depression and the baby blues but then are completely blind-sided by the sadness, fear, stress and sadness many feel during pregnancy.
If you have or are experiencing this now, you are not alone! Experts have stated for years that pregnancy hormones protect against depression; although later found the rapid increase in hormones can actually disrupt brain chemistry and lead to depression. According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), between 14-23% of women will struggle with symptoms of depression during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Depression
- Feeling as if nothing is enjoyable or fun
- Extreme fatigue
- Feeling sad and hopeless most days
- A change in appetite – feeling the need to eat all the time or not at all
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Lack of concentration or the inability to focus
- Inappropriate guilt or feelings of worthlessness
Pregnancy Depression Triggers
- Relationship problems
Problems may arise due to the pressure of supporting a new baby. Some may have expectations of how their spouse should act and are disappointed when they cannot meet expectations.
- Family history of depression or anxiety
Even if you have never experienced depression, now that you are expecting you’re at higher risk if depression and anxiety run in your family.
- Fatigue and nausea
Feeling sick and tired may keep you at home all the time and contribute to feelings of isolation and keep you from doing activities with friends or family that you would normally do. Some moms have nausea their entire pregnancy, which can definitely wear on the psyche.
- Body image
Although pregnancy is beautiful thing, not always do you feel beautiful. While some women feel sexier while pregnant, others may be in mourning at the possible loss of their pre-pregnancy figures.
- Pregnancy complications or previous pregnancy loss
Mother’s sometimes blame themselves for complications during pregnancy and that creates feelings of guilt and depression. Those who have miscarried previously remain stressed that it could happen again, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.
- Fertility treatments
Women who have taken extra steps such as fertility treatments to become pregnant most likely experienced a lot of stress prior to conception and tend to remain stressed in fear that something could go wrong.
The most important way to treat depression during pregnancy is to identify it and seek help immediately.
- Support Groups or Moms groups
- Light therapy
Natural ways to beat pregnancy depression
- Exercise – a natural way to increase serotonin levels.
- Healthy Diet & Nutrition – Avoid caffeine, sugar, processed carbohydrates and artificial additives. These things can lead to mood swings and affect your ability to handle stress. Make sure that you are getting enough iron, folic acid and protein.
- Acupuncture – there are new advancements in treating depression for pregnant women.
- Adequate amount of sleep – Lack of sleep can affect the way you handle problems and stress and can trigger depression. So get your rest!
- Omega-3 fatty acids – studies are showing that taking a daily supplement of Omega-3/ fish oils can decrease symptoms of depression.
Speak to your doctor and your partner immediately if you are having any feelings of depression. Your emotional health can affect your physical health therefore causing a potential for problems for you and your baby. Remember, you’re not alone!