Anxiety And Depression During Pregnancy

According to research, around 33% of women face clinical anxiety or depression at one point or other during their pregnancy. However, some studies show less than 20% pregnant women ask for and that treatment is seldom adequate.

A pregnant woman would be happy is a myth and that too a popular one. That is why doctors providing treatment do not take any interest in a woman’s mental health. And as always women find it uncomfortable to bring it up!

If your mental health check-ups show you have anxiety or depression, don’t worry! These can be treated through safe ways as well.

Symptoms of Anxiety During Pregnancy

The types of symptoms differ according to the type of disorder.

 Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

  • Uncontrollable worry
  • Irritation
  • Muscle aches/tension
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Bad  concentration

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Symptoms

  • Intrusive, persistent and recurring thoughts
  • Compulsions to get rid of those thoughts through repetitive actions 

Panic Disorder Symptoms

  • Frequent panic attacks
  • Continuous fear of panic attack

Symptoms of Depression During Pregnancy

Diagnosis of mood disorders during pregnancy is difficult because pregnancy and mood disorders have some overlapping symptoms such as changes in energy levels, sleep, appetite or concentration. However, if you experience persistent symptoms and it disrupts your normal functioning, you need help. 

The symptoms of depression during pregnancy include:

  • Experiencing depressive moods at least for 2 weeks. Depressive means disoriented, sad, empty or hopelessness
  • You don’t enjoy activities you used to
  • Little interest in the world around you
  • Guilt
  • Worthlessness
  • Decreased energy
  • Low concentration
  • Changes in appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Insomnia or excessive sleep

Risk Factors for Anxiety and Depression

There was a time when doctors believed that all the hormones working up in a woman’s body while she was pregnant would protect her from depression. Yet, the reality is different. For some moms-to-be, the vice-versa is truth. However, what is sure is that hormones do play a role in depression. Though, the exact mechanism is yet to be found.

There is no thumb rule as to who will experience anxiety or depression during pregnancy but women with the below given factors are more prone to anxiety and depression.

  • A family or personal history of mood disorder
  • A history of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Early age pregnancy
  • Poor or no social support
  • Loneliness
  • Marital conflict
  • Divorce, widow or separated
  • Stressful or traumatic events in the past
  • Pregnancy complications

Complications of Uncured Anxiety and Depression

The consequences of uncured anxiety and depression for the mother and fetus are often overlooked. The risks to the developing babies whose mothers have a history of uncured mental health issues are:

  • Preterm birth
  • Low weight at the time of birth
  • Low score on APGAR
  • Poor adaptability outside the womb

The risks to the mother are:

  • Suicide
  • Termination of pregnancy
  • Postpartum anxiety or depression
  • Use of harmful substances like drugs or alcohol
  • Impaired attachment to the baby
  • Neglecting oneself’s health
  • Preterm labor
  • C-section

Non-Medical Treatment

The below given treatments have proved to be helpful for pregnant women suffering from mild to moderate depression.

  • Psychotherapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Here, an expert therapist teaches new means to manage emotions and thoughts
  • Omega-3 fatty acids is found in walnuts and fish. This works as a natural mood-booster
  • Light therapy
  • acupuncture

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