Categories: Pregancy

Depression and Anxiety in Pregnant Women

Pregnancy is bliss not only for the mother but for the entire family. But with all the excitement and happiness related to pregnancy and the unborn, pregnancy is also a roller coaster ride of emotions, anxiety, and depression for mothers.

Postpartum depression is common in mothers after childbirth, but women also suffer from anxiety and depression during their pregnancy period.

Let’s first discuss what anxiety and depression is.

Anxiety is a mental health disorder associated with the feeling of excessive worry and restlessness. Anxiety can hinder one’s daily routine, such as household work, job performance, caring for kids and family members, and many more. Occasional anxiety is normal in our life. You may feel temporarily anxious while experiencing some difficulties or deciding something important. These temporary anxieties can go away when the problem is solved. But in persons suffering from anxiety disorders, the anxiety does not go away with time. Instead, it worsens.

Depression is a medical sickness that affects a person’s mood. It causes a constant feeling of sadness and disinterest in things. Everyone feels low at some or other times in their life, that is normal, and these emotions subside with time. But, depression disorder is different. It can affect your perception of life. Depression can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, socio-economic status, and education level.

Why does pregnancy-related depression often remain unnoticed?

The tendency of depression is twice in women as in men. And the early appearance of depression symptoms is seen during women’s reproductive age. As we know, mood swings are common in the pregnancy period. Therefore, symptoms of depression such as a change in sleeping pattern, low energy, decrease in appetite, feeling of disinterest in many activities are misinterpreted as pregnancy-related mood swings.

Some pregnant women do not talk about their symptoms due to the stigma associated with depression.

Thus the depression often goes unnoticed in pregnant women.

Sign and symptoms of anxiety and depression during pregnancy:

During pregnancy, the mother’s body undergoes many changes, which give rise to insecurities. These insecurities with pregnancy stress trigger anxiety and depression in many pregnant ladies.

The episodes of anxiety disorder are highest in the first trimester of pregnancy. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks during pregnancy, reach out to your doctor as they are warning signs of depression:

  • Having a low mood for the entire day or most of the day
  • Feeling worthless and guilty without any cause
  • Crying for no cause
  • Difficulty in concentrating or making any decisions
  • Loss of interest in simple daily activities
  • A feeling of constant worrying, restlessness, tension in muscles, and irritability
  • Repetitive thoughts of committing suicide and death

Effect of untreated anxiety and depression on the fetus:

Long-term neglected anxiety and depression may jeopardize the health of both the mother and the fetus. Untreated anxiety and depressive disorder can lead to:

  • Increased risk of postpartum depression in mothers
  • Chances of preterm birth
  • Baby born with low birth weight
  • The newborn has a smaller head circumference, which may further hinder the development of the brain.

How to cope with anxiety and depression during pregnancy:

Due to safety issues of medications during pregnancy, one should be careful while taking medicines for depression and anxiety. Many alternative therapies are advisable for anxiety and depression during pregnancy:

  • Try to engage yourself in daily physical activities – Your doctor may prescribe a list of physical activities suitable for you.
  • Practice yoga or meditation – Play some calming music whenever you are feeling low. It will comfort you by reducing emotional instability.
  • Getting enough sleep will help in controlling overwhelmed emotions – According to studies getting plenty of calm sleep is a natural anxiety reliever.
  • Talking about your insecurities to your partner or family members may help you recover from anxiety and depressive episodes.
  • Writing about your worries also helps in reducing anxiety and your insecurities.
  • Some therapies such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) can also provide major helps in treating anxiety and depression. The focus of CBT is the management of unstable emotions, negative thoughts, and harmful actions.

It is okay for some mothers to worry about the health of their babies. But excessive worrying not only negatively affects your health but also your child’s health. So try to avoid these negative thoughts and try to enjoy the period of pregnancy. Have a safe pregnancy.

Dr. Gaurav Jain | Consultant – Internal Medicine | Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Delhi

Narayana Health

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