Depression During Pregnancy: How to Spot It and Help Your Patient Cope

Posted April 27, 2015 by admin
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, between 14 and 23 percent of women will struggle with depression at some point during pregnancy. As a result, obstetricians and gynecologists need to know the pertinent research and information associated with pregnancy depression, since most will treat someone with the condition at some point during their practice. This article highlights the dangers of pregnancy depression, how to catch the signs of a pregnancy depression, and how to treat the condition.

Dangers of Pregnancy Depression

During a pregnancy, depression does not solely affect the potential mother. Left unchecked, it can lead to poor nutrition, drinking, drug use or even suicidal behavior, all of which are harmful for the fetus. Premature birth, developmental issues and a low birth weight are just a few of the potential problems of pregnancy depression.

Once babies are born to depressed mothers, they are more prone to irritability and inactivity compared to babies born to mothers who are not suffering from depression. Further, according to ACOG, some studies link pregnancy depression with fetal malformations, cardiac defects and pulmonary hypertension when mothers take antidepressants during pregnancy. Thus, pregnancy depression is not solely a women’s health issue; it is an essential health issue for the fetus and the mother alike.

Depression Signs and Triggers to Be Aware of During a Pregnancy

There are plenty of signs to watch out for during a pregnancy that might indicate a patient suffers from depression, including:

  • Lapses in concentration
  • Constant sadness
  • Excessive or limited sleep
  • Changes in nutrition or eating norms
  • Increased anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or general feelings of hopelessness
  • Guilty thoughts and feelings

Additionally, there are several key triggers that can provoke a pregnancy depression, so be sure to listen to information that patients tell you. Previous pregnancy loss, life stress, abuse and/or trauma history, and pregnancy complications can provoke pregnancy depression. By keeping these signs and triggers in mind, you can discern a pregnancy depression, allowing you to treat it.

Treating Pregnancy Depression

For a comprehensive issue such as treating pregnancy depression, an OBGYN board review provides the resources you need to enhance your understanding of this essential women’s health issue, helping you to become better equipped to fully treat this condition. As stated previously, medication is still a contentious and heavily debated form of treatment for pregnancy depression. Before exploring that route, encourage patients to consider natural remedies such as exercise, proper nutrition and healthy amounts of rest. Supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B-6 also may help reduce pregnancy depression.

Most importantly, advise your patients to seek help. Support groups, psychologists, family, loved ones and anyone else who makes up the patient’s support system can help ease the transition from pregnancy to motherhood.

To learn more about all the potential issues that might arise during pregnancy, get up to speed through our webinars, audio courses and live conferences.