Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Pregnancy and Depression

    Although many people consider pregnancy a time of happiness, about 10% to 20% of moms-to-be struggle with symptoms of depression.

    Causes

    • Having a history of depression or PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a severe type of PMS)
    • Age at time of pregnancy; the younger you are, the higher the risk.
    • Living alone or having limited familial support
    • Limited social support
    • Marital conflict or domestic violence
    • Uncertainty about the pregnancy

    Effects

    Stress related to pregnancy can contribute to the return or worsening of depression symptoms.

    Depression can get in the way of being able to care for yourself during your pregnancy. You may be less able to follow medical recommendations, as well as sleep and eat properly.

    The condition can also make you more likely to use tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs that can harm you and your developing baby.

    Some studies suggest that depression during pregnancy may increase the risk for pre-term delivery and low infant birth weight. However, there are experts who debate the connection between these outcomes and untreated depression.

    Depression may interfere with your ability to bond with your growing baby, too. Being depressed during pregnancy can place you at greater risk for having an episode of depression after delivery (postpartum depression).

    Take Care of Yourself

    Preparing for a new baby is a lot of hard work, but your health should come first. So resist the urge to get everything done: Cut down on your chores, and do things that will help you to relax. Taking care of yourself is a key part of taking care of your unborn child.

    Open up to your partner, your family, or your friends about what concerns you. If you ask for support, you'll find that you often get it.

    If you're still feeling down and anxious, consider therapy with a mental health specialist.

    Medication and Treatment

    Evidence suggests that many antidepressant medicines are safe for treating depression during pregnancy, and will not harm your growing baby -- at least according to the results from short-term studies. Long-term effects have not been as fully studied.

    Talk to your doctor about the possible risks and benefits of antidepressants. He can work with you to manage your symptoms and develop a treatment plan. He can also to refer you to a mental health specialist, if you need it.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on April 09, 2016

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
     
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
     
    slideshow fetal development
    Slideshow
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    Article
     
    What Causes Bipolar
    Video
    Woman trying on dress in store
    Slideshow
     
    pregnant woman
    Article
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    Quiz
     
    calendar and baby buggy
    Tool
    dark chocolate squares
    Slideshow