Depression Gone During Pregnancy?

QUESTION

Dear Midwife,
I have suffered from depression almost my whole life. I just discovered about one month ago that I am pregnant, and am six months along now. To be honest, I am in a tough living situation, and am currently not in the most desirable environment for a pregnant woman. These issues are going to change soon, however.

The thing that has surprised me is that normally I would be very depressed in this situation, but I'm not. I have noticed that my moods, despite my not-so-ideal situation, have been significantly better since getting pregnant. I feel like I'm in a good mood all the time, when I thought that being someone who already suffers from depression while pregnant would be a raging mess. I've never felt this happy in my life.

Is it possible that pregnancy hormones can make you happier? I don't feel like this is just from my excitement for my baby-to-be, but something else. I truly feel more centered, balanced, and genuinely happy than ever. I couldn't find any information on this topic because every time I search for this online, I find nothing but sites for depression in pregnancy, not non-depression in pregnancy. Am I imagining things?

ANSWER

Nope, the excess estrogen of pregnancy is often GREAT for a woman's mood.

Just remember that when the pregnancy is over, the estrogen level decreases, fairly rapidly at that, so if you do have any sign of returning depression after the baby is born, you need to tell your care provider asap

-- Cynthia, CNM. PhD.

Cynthia Flynn

Cynthia Flynn, CNM. PhD, is the General Director of the Family Health and Birth Center which provides prenatal, birth, postnatal, gynecological and primary health care to underserved women and their families in Washington, D.C. Recently Cynthia served as Associate Professor of Nursing at Seattle University. There she not only taught, but remained in full scope clinical midwifery practice at Valley Medical Center where she cared for pregnant and birthing women, and practices well-woman gynecology, family planning, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

Cynthia founded Columbia Women's Clinic and Birth Center, where she took care of pregnant women and infants up to two weeks of age and attended both birth center and hospital births. Before Cynthia earned her CNM, she worked as a registered nurse in labor and delivery and postpartum and is a certified Doula and Doula trainer.