Depression

It can be tough to acknowledge depression during what is supposed to be a joyous time. But as many as 1 in 5 women have symptoms of depression during pregnancy. You're at higher risk if you have a history of depression.

Hormonal changes or stress can worsen existing depression. Pregnancy symptoms such as morning sickness, fatigue, and mood swings can also contribute. It's important to your growing baby that you take care of yourself, eat well, sleep well, and get regular prenatal care. You may worry that antidepressants may harm your unborn baby. While there are risks associated with antidepressant use in pregnancy, not treating depression may be more risky than taking medicine. Work with your doctor to find the best solution for you.

Your ob-gyn or primary doctor may screen you for depression at a routine office visit. He can ask you a series of questions to determine your risk for depression and can offer treatment if necessary.

Call Doctor If:

  • You find out you are pregnant and are taking antidepressants or other medications to let your doctor know what you are taking.
  • You have a history of depression and are worried about depression during or after pregnancy.
  • You have symptoms of depression.
  • You have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.

Step-by-Step Care:

  • Get support from your partner, family, and friends.
  • Tell your doctor. Ask for help.
  • Eat well. Depression can rob you of your appetite, but your baby still needs nourishment.
  • Get some exercise -- a walk or swimming can help improve your mood and is good for your baby, too.
  • Don’t suddenly stop taking antidepressants. Talk to your doctor first.
  • Consider counseling or joining a support group.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on May 10, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Your Pregnancy and Childbirth, Month to Month. 5th edition. 2010.

March of Dimes: "Pregnancy Complications: Depression."

The Journal of the American Medical Association. “Recommendations for Screening Depression in Adults,” Vol. 315, No. 4, January 26, 2016.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "Depression during and after pregnancy fact sheet."

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