How to Cope With Depression During Pregnancy
Depression is a common complication of pregnancy, with up to one out of every five women experiencing depression during pregnancy. Some women have a higher risk of depression during pregnancy, depending on current and past health history. If you experience feelings of depression, sadness or anxiety during pregnancy, seek help from your caregiver. Left untreated, depression can have serious repercussions for both mother and baby.
Assess your symptoms.
Common signs of pregnancy-related depression include sleep or eating disruptions, lingering sadness, trouble focusing and concentrating, anxiety, reduced interest in activities you once enjoyed, persistent hopeless thoughts about suicide or death, and feelings of guilt and worthlessness, states the American Pregnancy Association. If you have any of these symptoms for two or more weeks, you may be experiencing depression.
Consult your primary obstetrical caregiver as soon as possible after you recognize persistent depression symptoms. Explain the symptoms and ask for assistance in resolving the depression. Seek support from your partner, family and friends as you cope with depression. Ask family or friends to help with older children to give you a few hours of respite once or twice each week. Ask loved ones to help run errands or perform household chores to lessen your workload. Sometimes feeling supported by others can reduce anxiety and feelings of hopelessness.
Take care of your physical health during pregnancy.
Follow a healthy diet plan to ensure you give both you and your baby adequate calories, vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Consult a registered dietitian if you have difficulty planning a healthy pregnancy menu. Talk to your doctor about developing a safe daily exercise plan. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise daily during pregnancy.
Follow your caregiver’s recommendations for treatment. Your caregiver might recommend psychotherapy, joining a support group, light therapy, massage therapy or medication. Mild or moderate depression often responds well to treatment plans that do not involve medication. Severe depression may require medication. Discuss risks and benefits of medication with your caregiver to determine the best course of treatment that will produce positive results for both you and your unborn baby.
The risks of untreated depression for both mother and fetus include poor nutrition and risky behaviors, such as alcohol consumption, smoking and suicidal thoughts.
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