We used to think of pregnancy as a time of joy and bliss, when the expectant mother is protected from illness and especially from mental illness. In recent years, however, it has become clear to clinicians and researchers alike that pregnant women can develop disorders like depression, anxiety or panic, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
In fact, 12% of pregnant women will develop a mood disorder, which is equivalent to the prevalence in the non-pregnant women population. Certain difficulties and challenges are very common among pregnant women, such as nausea and vomiting, eating problems, sleep disturbances, fatigue and mood swings. These problems, albeit discomforting, are usually manageable and temporary and do not require any particular treatment.
However, some women experience more serious symptoms like depressed mood, extreme anxiety or intrusive upsetting thoughts and/or compulsive behaviours. Because of the overlap between normal difficulties in pregnancy and symptoms of depression, it is very easy to miss a diagnosis of depression during pregnancy. Indeed, many pregnant women are dismissed by health care professionals when they complain about their symptoms.
It is extremely important, though, to diagnose and treat depression in pregnancy because untreated depression at the time of pregnancy may lead to severe postpartum depression and may adversely affect the health of both mother and baby. The symptoms of depression during pregnancy are very similar to those of depression in non-pregnant women. They are:
- Depressed mood and/or lack of interest
- Significant sleep disturbances
- Loss of enjoyment in previously favoured activities
- Marked decrease or increase in appetite
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt
- Lack of energy, exhaustion
- Uncontrollable crying spells
- Feelings of hopelessness and doom
- Withdrawal from people and activities
- Suicidal ideation
About 30% of women who develop depression during pregnancy also develop an anxiety or panic disorder, and another 30% may develop Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). To read more about anxiety, panic and OCD click here. If symptoms persist for over 2 weeks and seriously affect the woman’s sense of well-being and quality of life, treatment is essential.
For more information, contact Dr Regev at her Vancouver office on West Broadway Tel: 604-671-7356 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org