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Depression Health Center

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Depression in Women

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What are my options if I'm depressed during pregnancy?

Preparing for a new baby is lots of hard work. But your health should come first. Resist the urge to get everything done, cut down on your chores, and do things that will help you relax. In addition, talking about things that concern you is very important. Talk to your friends, your partner, and your family. If you ask for support, you will find you often get it.

If you're feeling down and anxious, consider seeking therapy. Ask your doctor or midwife for a referral to a mental health care professional.

How is depression in women treated during pregnancy?

Growing evidence suggests that many of the currently available antidepressant medicines, including most SSRIs (except for Paxil), appear to have minimal (if any) risks 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 as well as many other factors during a pregnancy that can endanger a developing fetus. Untreated depression can put both mother and infant at risk. Often, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is 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 should be made with the baby's pediatrician along with her own psychiatrist after a discussion of risks and benefits. Most antidepressants are expressed in very small amounts in breast milk and their possible effects on a nursing infant, if any, are not well understood.

Does the prevalence of depression in women increase at midlife?

Perimenopause is the stage of a woman's reproductive life that typically begins in her 40s (or earlier for some) and lasts until menstruation has ceased for a year (and a woman is considered to be in menopause). In the last one to two years of perimenopause, the decrease in estrogen accelerates. At this stage, many women experience menopausal symptoms.

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