Depression During Pregnancy

Feb 25, 2009
Pregnancy is associated with feelings of happiness and excitement, but for some moms-to-be pregnancy can become one of the most difficult times. Depression affects around 10 to 30 percent of pregnant women, though the percentage of depressed pregnant women can be higher due to the fact that most of them hesitate to report about this problem to their health care professional.

Depression during pregnancy is a serious condition that affects woman's health. Many depressed women do not have proper prenatal care, eating less or indulging in unhealthy food, lack adequate rest. Also depression during pregnancy increases woman's risk of having postpartum depression.
If you think you have a depression, you should discuss this problem with your doctors or midwife.

Symptom of depression during pregnancy

In many cases, depression goes undiagnosed because symptoms of depression are similar to usual mood fluctuations of pregnancy. What are the most common signs to pinpoint your depression during pregnancy?
  • Feelings of despair and helplessness

  • Loss of interest in usual activities

  • Sudden changes in weight (weight loss or weight gain)

  • Difficulties in concentrating

  • Overwhelming sadness

  • Thoughts of suicide

  • Sleep disturbances

If these symptoms persists for more than several weeks, you may need professional help rather than blame your pregnancy moodiness.

Depression and your baby's health

Your mental and emotional well-being is just as well important as your physical health. There are some studies that say that stress and depression can have negative impact on unborn child because of the reduced blood flow to the fetus in pregnancy. Depressed pregnant women are also more likely to have babies with sleep problems. Also there is evidence that pregnant women suffering from depression are at increased risk of preterm delivery and low-birth babies. This risk is higher with severe depression.

Antidepressants during pregnancy

Common antidepressants prescribed for treatment of depression cannot be considered completely safe during pregnancy. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Lexapro, are a widely used class of antidepressants. These antidepressants can cross the placental barrier and influence baby's health.

For a pregnant woman using antidepressants can be quite a difficult choice since this may affect health of their unborn baby. There is an increased risk of such complications as persistent pulmonary hyptertension, heart problems and neonatal abstinence syndrome characterized by such symptoms as disturbed sleep, high-pitch crying, tremors and other. You should evaluate all the pros and contras together with your physician since both depression and the use of antidepressants can become a risk factor for your baby's well-being.

How can you treat depression during pregnancy?

Treating depression during pregnancy is important and you may also choose a wide variety of treatment options that will not harm your or your bay's health.
You can use different types of traditional therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy to eliminate depressive thoughts or interpersonal therapy, to learn how to communicate more effectively with other people.

Music therapy shows promise in treatment of depression in pregnant women. Relaxing music was found to reduce psychological stress and relieve depression symptoms. The study showed that listening to soothing music such as lullabies, classical music, nature and crystal sounds for at least 30 minutes a day may significantly help in treatment of depression during pregnancy.

Color therapy is a complementary therapy that uses colors to balance body's energy. Color therapists believe that certain colors (like, for example, warm colors of otange, yellow, red) used in your environment may affect your mood and thus use certain color combinations to treat depression.

Aromatherapy is based on the use of aromatic essences to regulate biochemical reactions of the body. Aromatherapy can be effective for mild depression to relieve fatigue or help with sleep. Common essential oils tat used to treat depression include ylang ylang, lemon, rose, orange, grapefruit, basil and others.


Moderate exercising has positive effect on mothers having depression during pregnancy. Exercising is known to stimulate the production of compounds that elevate mood, enhance the level of serotonin and reduce the level of cortisol hormone, which contributes to weakening of depression symptoms. Exercising at least 10 to 30 minutes a day is enough to improve your condition. Walking is one of the simplest forms of exercises during pregnancy that may also benefit your overall health.

Healthy eating

Depression often is a result of dietary imbalance and deficiency of essential nutrients. Try to avoid consumption of products rich in refined sugar, reduce caffeine and alcohol intake. Talk to your obstetrician about using additional supplements such as folic acid, group B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, iron, biotin and potassium.