27 Mar Pregnant and Depressed? Help is Available!
Contrary to widespread beliefs, pregnancy does not protect a woman from depression. According to a recent study published in the Archives of Women’s Mental Health in February 2012, up to 20% of pregnant women experience some symptoms of depression. That means 1 in every 5 pregnant women and it is a striking number! Doctors often under-diagnose women with depression during pregnancy mostly because they fail to thoroughly screen for depression at that time and because some common complaints during pregnancy are similar to depressive symptoms (example: sleep and appetite changes, low energy, changes in mood). However, women who have sad or down mood most days, crying spells, changes in sleep and appetite or a sense of hopelessness should seek immediate help! Depression at any time in your life is extremely unpleasant and can be dangerous. When a pregnant woman is depressed the baby may be seriously affected; low birth weight, premature birth and cognitive and developmental effect during childhood have been documented. It is clear that depression during pregnancy MUST BE treated. When considering treatment options women should have all the information so they can make an informed decision, which suits them the best. Some doctors recommend anti-depressant medication, explaining that the risks of not treating the depression outweigh the risks of medication. What women are often not told is that those medication can negatively affect the unborn baby. Also, those doctors who prescribe anti-depressants to pregnant women consider medication as the only treatment option available. The truth is, however, that non-pharmacological (i.e., no medication) treatment options, such as Cognitive-Behavioral-Therapy, have been found to be as effective as medication in the treatment of depression without the side effects of medication and they are more effective than medication in the long run. I would like every pregnant woman who suffers from symptoms of depression to know all the facts, to be aware of options and to choose what’s best for her, without being bullied into taking medication if she prefers not to while at the same time feeling free to take medication if that’s the best option for her. Depression can hit anyone. it is not a woman’s fault if she is depressed and it is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Please help yourself and your baby and get the treatment that’s right for you.