Mood Disorders in Pregnancy – Case Example

Joanne: A Case Example

Joanne is a 33-year-old married woman who is 5 months pregnant with her second child. Her eldest daughter is 3. She has been in a common-law relationship for the past 6 years. Joanne is a teacher and her partner, Ben, is a scientist. Joanne started feeling “weird” shortly after she discovered she was pregnant. She was very tired all the time, extremely nauseous and had aches and pains all over her body. She attributed these symptoms to her pregnancy and her depressed mood toward the symptoms. “No wonder I’m feeling down…it must be this awful nausea,” she would say to herself. In the weeks that followed, however, her mood kept spiraling downward and she got irritable and anxious, as well as depressed. She often could not fall asleep at night and would wake up early in the morning, which was very unlike her. She started declining her friends’ invitations to go out and socialize, saying that she was tired because of the pregnancy, and she found herself screening her phone calls more and more. Soon, she found taking care of her daughter overwhelming, something she had never experienced before.

When she confided in Ben one night about the way she had been feeling, he wrapped his arms around her and said: “Sweetie, you’re just pregnant, that’s all.” She felt a little better for a moment, but the next morning she could not get out of bed. She called in sick and then called Ben and asked him to come home immediately. “What’s the matter, honey?” he wanted to know, but Joanne was just sobbing and sobbing and was shaking all over. “I think I’m losing my mind” she told Ben, who immediately left work and came home. Joanne had developed a full-blown depression, complicated with an anxiety disorder.

That afternoon Joanne and Ben went to see their family physician. The physician diagnosed Joanne with depression and referred her to a psychiatric clinic. Joanne received 12 weekly sessions of psychotherapy at the clinic and her symptoms completely disappeared. After the birth of her second baby she was followed up at the clinic for 6 months and then discharged.