Pregnancy depression is a common, yet often overlooked, mental health issue that can have serious consequences for both mother and baby. This article provides seven tips to help pregnant women overcome pregnancy depression. Pregnancy depression is real and, unfortunately, it’s more common than we think.
Socially we interpret pregnancy as one of the happiest moments in a woman’s life, but for many women, pregnancy becomes a period of confusion, fear, stress, tension, anxiety, and even depression. Approximately 11% of women in the United States have postpartum depression while 14.8% have depressive symptoms during pregnancy. It is often not diagnosed in time because it is confused with hormonal changes typical of pregnancy.
This delay in diagnosis has important consequences for both the mother and the baby, since the mother is not well, care, attention, and attachment can be affected… For this reason, in this Psychologyorg article we show you some options so you know how to overcome pregnancy depression.
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Why do some women have depression during pregnancy and after the birth of their child?
Many females are surprised or dissatisfied when they feel unhappy during pregnancy or after the delivery of their child since most of us desire motherhood to be one of the happiest times of our lives, and for many mothers it is.
But there are also many changes and challenges that cause depression to appear at this time in a woman’s life:
- Changes in relationships with your partner, family, and friends
- Change of role when being a mother
- Leaving work (maternity leave)
- Changes in lifestyle
- Fatigue and lack of sleep
- The challenge of caring for a baby along with other responsibilities
- Significant physical changes in the body
- Changes in hormone levels
- Also, even if things go according to “plan” with the pregnancy, birth, and the first months of the baby’s life, these changes and challenges can make a woman more vulnerable to depression.
- Also, some women who have previously taken medication for depression or anxiety may decide to stop taking it during pregnancy, leading in some cases to increased anxiety symptoms during and after pregnancy.
Another familiar concern is that the woman suffers from postpartum depression, that is, being depressed after delivering the child.
Treatment for depression in pregnancy or after childbirth
In order to overcome depression due to pregnancy, there are several options that have shown efficacy in helping women with depression. Some are:
- Psychoeducation: It involves following certain guidelines related to health. They can be patterns related to food, hours of sleep, that is, lifestyle.
- Psychotherapy – Although there are many types of psychotherapy, the ones that have been shown to be most effective in treating depression during and after pregnancy are cognitive behavioral and interpersonal therapy. Therapy can be both individual and group. On the one hand, it would be about women having an active life again and, on the other hand, identifying those thought patterns or erroneous beliefs underlying depression in order to modify them.
- Medication: it consists of treating depression at a chemical level. The most widely used psychoactive drugs are antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. There is much debate about the safety and long-term effects of antidepressants in pregnancy. Some research indicates that certain psychotropic drugs used to treat depression may be associated with birth defects, heart problems, or low birth weight.
A woman with moderate or mild depression may be able to manage her symptoms with self-help groups or psychotherapy. While medication would be used in conjunction with psychotherapy, in very extreme cases where psychotherapy does not work, with the necessary precautions.
Tips for pregnancy depression
In addition to the options listed above, there are other natural options that can help you alleviate the symptoms of pregnancy depression. Here we discover how to overcome pregnancy depression naturally :
1. Reserve some time for yourself
If necessary, ask for help from someone you trust who can stay with the child to do something you like or simply disconnect. Maternity is an important change in which the time dedicated to you is diminished, so it is important that you allocate some time for yourself
2. Try to stay active, exercise when you can
Exercise may have an antidepressant effect on women who have pregnancy depression, as it increases serotonin levels and decreases cortisol levels. It doesn’t have to be an intense exercise, for example, going for a walk with the baby whenever you can, is a good option to be active and outdoors.
3. Organize your sleeping hours, and ensure a good rest
Lack of sleep often affects both the body and mind and your ability to cope with stress and the challenges of everyday life. Try to establish a sleep routine so that you go to sleep and get up at around the same time every day.
Probably one of the best-known tips is “Sleep while your baby sleeps.” It is important to sleep the necessary hours for a good rest, a study revealed that women who slept less had more depressive symptoms. These women reported sleeping less than 4 hours between 12 am and 6 am or less than 60-minute naps during the day.
4. Follow a healthy diet
Maintaining a healthy diet, by itself, will not cure pregnancy depression. However, sticking to the habit of eating healthy foods can help you feel better and provide your body with the necessary nutrients. Try to plan your meals on a weekly basis, keeping in mind that some foods high in caffeine, sugar, carbohydrates, artificial additives, and low in protein can lead to mental and physical health problems.
5. Omega-3 fatty acids
It has long been known that omega-3 fatty acids can help with numerous health conditions, but more recent studies indicate that taking a daily omega-3 supplement may decrease symptoms of depression.
6. Do not isolate yourself
Avoid isolation and ask for help. Research shows that talking about your feelings with other people can help improve your mood. Those women who spoke regularly with their mothers, and relatives, that is, people who were supportive of them, presented lower levels of depression. In cases where there is not a good support network, self-help groups may be an option.
7. Reach out for help
It is crucial to seek professional help if you are struggling with pregnancy depression. Speak with your doctor or midwife, who can offer a range of treatment options. They may refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in perinatal depression or prescribe medication that is safe to take during pregnancy.
In conclusion, pregnancy depression is a common experience for many expectant mothers. If you are struggling with depression during pregnancy, know that you are not alone and that help is available. By seeking professional help, practicing self-care, connecting with supportive loved ones, joining a support group, getting enough sleep, considering alternative therapies, and being gentle with yourself, you can manage signs of pregnancy depression and enjoy this transformative period.
This article is simply for information, at Psychologyorg we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We request you to go to a psychologist to treat your certain case.
If you want to read more articles similar to How to overcome depression during Pregnancy, we recommend that you enter our Mental Disorders category.