It is a common belief that pregnancy is the happiest moment in a woman’s life. However, real life experiences, supported by recent studies, suggest that pregnancy can also make a woman depressed. According to study conducted by the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 14 to 23 percent pregnant women experience at least an episode of depression during pregnancy.
Moreover, the study has also found that the incidence of depression during pregnancy is rising rapidly over the years. Nearly 13 percent women take antidepressant drugs while pregnant. However, fear of adverse affect of antidepressant on the unborn child keeps most pregnant women away from the antidepressants.
Effect of maternal depression on fetus health
Researchers have found that depression during pregnancy could cause neonatal irritability in the short run. Antidepressants taken by women during pregnancy could be responsible for low birth weight. These medications could even cause neurobehavioral changes in the fetus. It might shorten the gestation period, leading to preterm delivery. Depression during pregnancy might mildly increase the risk fetal malformation.
Reasons of depression during pregnancy
Several factors might make a pregnant woman depressed. Stress is one of the major causes of depression during this time. Physical and mental stress might arise from restriction in mobility. Restrictions on choice of food can also make a woman depressed. Financial constraint, lack of support from spouse and family could increase stress. If the pregnancy is unplanned, it often causes depression during pregnancy. In addition, risk of depression during pregnancy increases if there is a history of depression among close relatives.
Trauma of a previous miscarriage, sexual abuse and substance abuse increase the risk of depression during pregnancy.
The symptoms of depression include difficulty in sleeping or oversleeping, overeating or refusing to eat, improper social behavior, lack of interest in regular activities, fatigue and thoughts of harming oneself.
Depression during pregnancy should be treated without the help of antidepressants. Cognitive behavioral therapy and counseling can effectively cure depression during pregnancy. Relaxation techniques and meditation can help to overcome depression. Healthy diet can also help to lift the mood of a woman depressed during pregnancy. You should spend quality time with your spouse, members of your family and friends. Talk freely about your fears with your partner and close relatives.