Understanding Prenatal Depression

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A pregnant woman is expected to be jolly and in “cloud 9” while waiting for her baby to arrive. She should be happy always since a little angel is inside her blessed body and will be ready to come out in 9 months. Catherine Monk, PhD  highlighted that “The womb is an influential first home, as important as the one a child is raised in, if not more so.” It is also anticipated that after giving birth, the hormones are in disarray and a bit of Post-Partum Depression can be suffered by the mother. But with love and some help, it can be managed easily.

What others don’t know is that depression can commence at any time and not just post-partum. This means that a pregnant woman can get depressed anytime from the first trimester up to her 9th month. This condition is referred to as Prenatal Depression or Antenatal Depression. “Anxiety, depression, and stress in pregnancy are risk factors for adverse outcomes for mothers and children. Anxiety in pregnancy is associated with shorter gestation and has adverse implications for fetal neurodevelopment and child outcomes,” wrote Christine Schetter, PhD.

A study revealed that up to 20% of pregnant mothers experience this type of clinical depression and most of them fail to get treatment. At least 7% of the women who are with a child has this mental health issue. In simple math, for every 100 pregnant women, at least 7 have this disorder and most of them are unconscious about it. This depression can go on for months and even years, and the only way to make it stop is through treatment and therapy. Medication is rarely prescribed, but if absolutely needed during extreme cases, it is being advised.

Signs and Symptoms of Prenatal Depression

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The reason why Prenatal Depression is often left untreated is that women feel that the change in their moods and emotions are due to their pregnancy hormones. There is truth to that, but if this change in behavior becomes severe or the pregnant mother fails to function normally, then, it can be this mental health problem.

  • Failure to focus or concentrate
  • Can’t remember things
  • Feelings of numbness
  • Always agitated
  • Can’t sleep well or sleeps for extended hours
  • Overly fatigued
  • Overeating or not eating at all
  • No interest in sex
  • Dreadful of giving birth in an extreme way
  • Feeling guilty, helpless and hopeless all the time
  • Intense sadness
  • A disconnect reaction with the baby
  • Not happy about giving birth
  • Wanting to die or often thinking about dying and death
Factors that Trigger Prenatal Depression
.                                Source: img.huffingtonpost.com


A pregnant woman can get clinically depressed for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common factors:

  • Failed or bad and abusive personal relationships
  • Family problems
  • History of depression in the family
  • Previous miscarriages
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Rape, abuse or other traumatic events

Treatments for Prenatal Depression

It is not usually recommended for pregnant women to drink anti-depressants because there is a baby inside of them and the meds may have an effect on the unborn child. But there are instances when medication is necessary for a pregnant mother and that’s due to the severity of their depression. This prescription is carefully provided for the mother – TCA’s and SSRI’s are the topical medication. When used as prescribed, the pregnant mother’s mood will be lifted in as short as two weeks. Energy will also be elevated and bad feelings are suppressed, as well.

In a study conducted by Angela Bowen, PhD, and co-authors, it was discovered that “depressive symptoms improve over the course of the pregnancy into the postpartum period, particularly for women who receive treatment.” Therapy is the go-to treatment for this type of clinical depression. It is a very effective way of letting out their ill feelings so that they can sort it out and work on it.

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