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Depression

Pregnancy > Health and Development > Depression

Depression can be an unexpected, unwelcome and undetected accompaniment to the joy and anticipation of a new baby. For around 25% of women who experience postnatal depression, the symptoms begin during pregnancy but are overlooked or ignored.

Help is available for women whose depression is detected quickly but for those who slip through the net depression can lead to smoking and drinking to excess, drug abuse and lack of general health and dietary care. These practices can in turn lead to problems including, poor prenatal care, low birth weight and premature delivery.

Although depression is extremely difficult to detect and is often attributed to the normal hormonal changes taking place during pregnancy, there are symptoms which should be attended to such as emotional swings, irritability, feelings of hopelessness, crying spells, low self esteem and the inability to take pleasure from preparations and other pleasurable activities related to the pregnancy.

Studies indicate peak levels of depression occur around the eight month of pregnancy and special attention should be given to pregnant women who display extreme cases of the above symptoms as children born to depressed mothers may be prone to lethargy, irritability and irregular sleep patterns which in turn can aggravate the symptoms of depression in a new mother.

Treatments for depression include psychotherapy and the use of antidepressant drugs. While most antidepressants are fairly safe for pregnant women there are some potential risks such as birth defects, neonatal toxicity and long term cognitive or emotional effects. However, the consequences of severe depression can be much more harming to mother and baby so always, always seek professional help if you feel that you may be even mildly depressed.

Depression is not a sign of being a bad mother but is a natural chemical reaction in the brain which can affect anyone but is more likely to occur during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, stresses and pressures of becoming a mother, lack of sleep, family and work concerns and other factors which do not arise at any other time of your life.

Never be ashamed or afraid to tell someone, depression can be a life threatening condition and should be treated like any other symptom.



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