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Depression in Women

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How is depression in women treated during pregnancy?

Growing evidence suggests that many of the currently available antidepressant medicines are safe for treating depression during pregnancy, at least in terms of the potential short-term effects on the baby. Long-term effects continue to be studied. Risks can differ depending on medication. Untreated depression can put both mother and infant at risk. Also, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is often considered to be the safest and most effective treatment for severe depression during pregnancy.

You should discuss the possible risks and benefits of treatment with your doctor.

How is postpartum depression in women treated?

Postpartum depression, or depression following childbirth, can be treated like other forms of depression. That means using medicines and/or psychotherapy. If a woman is breastfeeding, the decision to take an antidepressant must be made with her doctor after a discussion of risks and benefits. According to the NIH, antidepressant use by a nursing mother does not affect her infant.

Does the prevalence of depression in women increase at midlife?

Perimenopause is the stage of a woman's reproductive life that begins eight to 0 years before menopause. In the last one to two years of perimenopause, the decrease in estrogen accelerates. At this stage, many women experience menopausal symptoms.

Menopause is the period of time when a woman stops having her monthly period and experiences symptoms related to the lack of estrogen production. By definition, a woman is in menopause after her periods have stopped for one year. Menopause typically occurs in a woman's late 40s to early 50s. However, women who have their ovaries surgically removed undergo "sudden" menopause.

The drop in estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause triggers physical and emotional changes -- such as depression or anxiety. Like at any other point in a woman's life, there is a relationship between hormone levels and physical and emotional symptoms. Some physical changes include irregular or skipped periods, heavier or lighter periods, and hot flashes.

How can I cope with symptoms of menopause?

There are many ways you can ease menopause symptoms and maintain your health. These tips include ways to cope with mood swings, fears, and depression:

  • Eat healthfully and exercise regularly.
  • Engage in a creative outlet or hobby that fosters a sense of achievement.
  • Find a self-calming skill to practice -- such as yoga, meditation, or slow, deep breathing.
  • Keep your bedroom cool to prevent night sweats and disturbed sleep.
  • Seek emotional support from friends, family members, or a professional counselor when needed.
  • Stay connected with your family and community and nurture your friendships.
  • Take medicines, vitamins, and minerals as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Take steps such as wearing loose clothing to stay cool during hot flashes.

 

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