by Pregnancy.org Staff
Recently our news feeds have been flooded with bad news about pregnancy and anti-depressants. If you're depressed and expecting a baby, finding a treatment can feel like a balancing act over hot coals.
1 in 10 moms-to-be are depressed during their pregnancy or the postpartum period according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Moms express their concerns over the research that weighs the negative impacts of suffering from depression versus the risks of moms taking anti-depressants (which can affect the developing or breastfeeding baby).
"After my father passed away I was put on an antidepressant. When I got pregnant I was very concerned about my developing baby and the effects of the medicine. But thinking of going off the medication...that was scary, too! I dreaded the hormonal depression compounded by depression from being off the meds." ~Shellie, Pregnancy.org member
Tip: Each woman's individual medical history and circumstances will determine the best course for her personal treatment. We encourage you to work with a trusted physician and counselor as you consider treatment options.
The first step is to figure out whether your symptoms are connected to depression, postpartum depression, or "baby blues." More information is available for you in these related articles:
Once you've received a diagnosis of depression or postpartum depression, the next course of action is deciding what treatment to use. Each choice will have varying possible risks for mom and/or baby.
Some pregnant or breastfeeding moms try to deny they're depressed or that anything's wrong. Ignoring real depression is not a viable choice. There's nothing shameful about having this condition. You're not alone.
• Moms who aren't sleeping, eating and gaining enough weight, or alternatively, overeating and gaining too much weight -- can deny a baby of proper nutrients needed for proper growth and development.
• Your negative moods could also have an effect on your growing son or daughter's brains. The "sad" or "anxious" chemical in your bloodstream moves to your baby's bloodstream via the placenta. The developing brain takes these signals and makes the changes to prepare your baby for life in a stressful world.
• Your baby might be born too soon. Women who are depressed have twice the risk of preterm delivery as opposed to pregnant women who aren't. Scientists suspect that the chemistry of depression during early pregnancy could possibly interfere with placental development and function.
• Stress on your body can lead to higher blood pressure which increases the risk of toxemia. Stress can also pave the way for other challenges such as anxiety, fears, overwhelming sadness, and even thoughts of suicide.
"It's essential that pregnant moms recognize that option of "no treatment" might also harm both you and your baby," clinical phychologist, Shoshana Bennet shares. "Pregnant women and their families, including those not yet born, no longer need to suffer from depression."
Could changing your diet, making exercise a regular part of your day or going to bed earlier ease your depression? Many moms-to-be claim to feel better after trying. Here are our suggestions: