Coping with Depression during Pregnancy
Many women find that the hormones and anxiety of pregnancy wreak havoc on their emotional well being. Depression during pregnancy is more common than you'd think — approximately 10% to 20% of pregnant women suffer with it. The depression can range from minor to major, depending on your symptoms and how they affect how you function in your life. Depression is a very real condition, which is difficult to avoid if you have an actual biochemical imbalance due to hormones, depression, anxiety, etc.
Symptoms of depression during pregnancy include sleeplessness, anxiety, guilt, sadness, loss of appetite, mood swings, fatigue and the feeling that you want to hurt yourself. It is imperative that you do not try to treat yourself, rather, seek medical attention immediately. While doctors prefer to avoid using most medications during a woman's pregnancy, the risk of letting depression go untreated outweighs any slim chance of the medication affecting the baby. Most depression during pregnancy can be treated through a combination of therapy and antidepressants.
If you feel like you suffer from minor depression, or even major depression, there are several ways you can help yourself cope with depression during pregnancy. Do the most you can to keep your stress levels down, and your mood up.
Rest and Pampering
Pregnancy can be exhausting, so it is important to keep your energy levels up by getting adequate rest. Be sure to schedule some relaxing activities into your day, such as reading, journaling (which can help you get some of your anxieties out), massage, pampering, etc. Even if it's just putting your feet up at the end of the day to watch your favorite TV show, unwinding from the day's activities helps alleviate stress and anxiety.
Even if you're not suffering with major depression, talking about your fears, anxieties and stressors go a long way in helping you cope with depression during pregnancy. Although you may need to have psychotherapy with a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist, talking with friends and family can help address your concerns. You may find that talking to other pregnant women can help you feel like you're not the only one who is struggling with depression during pregnancy.
If you had a difficult time getting pregnant, or have suffered the loss of previous pregnancies, you may be at an increased risk of developing depression during pregnancy. Although all women worry about their pregnancies, you may have a heightened sense of anxiety concerning your pregnancy — something going wrong, unresolved sadness about previous losses, etc. Conversely, women with unplanned pregnancies may also struggle with emotions that feel overwhelming, such as regret, fear of facing parenthood alone, etc. Be sure to get help from a professional to deal with these emotions before they get too consuming, and interfere with your well being.
Establish a strong support system early on in your pregnancy. Pregnancy is a marathon, and you may not be able to do the things you had previously. Have your husband share a little more of the household chores, ask a family member to take your other children one day a week, or hire a housecleaner once a month to take care of the big stuff. Join an expecting moms group in your area, or online so that you can commiserate with women in the same situation.
Cope with Stress
In addition to talking about your stress and establishing a support system, find ways to alleviate stress, with activities such as pregnancy yoga, meditation and walking. If you have a hobby such as scrapbooking or knitting that relaxes you, make extra time for it during your pregnancy.
Maintain your relationship with your partner throughout your pregnancy. Don't suffer alone — share your symptoms with him so that he may help you cope with depression during pregnancy. Take the time to travel, go on dates and prepare for the baby together as a couple — you won't have much time or freedom to do it after the baby is born!
Symptoms of depression during pregnancy should never be ignored. Although you can do a lot on your own to ward off minor depression, serious depression must be treated by a doctor.