Why am I not happy? Pregnant women should be made aware of treatment choices for depression and anxiety

28 Apr Why am I not happy? Pregnant women should be made aware of treatment choices for depression and anxiety

You may be surprised to learn that many pregnant women become depressed and/or anxious in various stages of their pregnancy. In fact, research shows that up to 15% of pregnant women struggle with one or more mental health problem. Yet, most pregnant women who struggle with mental health issues go undiagnosed. Of the few who do get diagnosed most are offerred anti-depressants. While medication is warranted in particularly severe cases of depression and anxiety most women can get better by getting one or more non-pharmachological (i.e., no medication) treatments, such as: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, Bright Light Therapy and Marital Therapy. These types of therapy have been found to be highly effective in treating women with depression and/or anxiety and they have absolutely no side effects and, of course, do not negatively affect the fetus.

You may ask yourself why these types of therapy are not often being offerred to pregnant women while medications are. The answer lies with our medical system in Canada. The non-pharmacological therapies are not covered by MSP while anti-depressants are. Also, pharmaceutical companies are very powerful and very efficient in advertising anti-depressants as “miracle drugs”, which are capable of curing depression and/or anxiety very effectively and easily. This in not always the truth; anti-depressants are effective in only 60% of the cases and they do get to the baby through the placenta. Also, anti-depressants do not take care of psycho-social reasons for depression and anxiety, such as: social isolation, past trauma, distressed relationship with partner, an unwanted pregnancy and more.

It is important that women are made aware of all the different types of treatments, which are available and have been established as highly effective, so that women can be informed and by that, be empowered. Women should be given the opportunity to become partners in their own mental health treatment.