Even though you’re likely excited to be expecting, you still might experience anxiety and even depression during pregnancy, according to Women’s Health and the March of Dimes. Most cases of pregnancy-related depression and anxiety are attributable to hormone changes in the body but, of course, can still upset expectant moms. Some traditional medical treatments for depression and anxiety are not appropriate during pregnancy, but knowing what signs to watch out for may help you and your doctor come up with the best possible treatment plan.
Prevalence and Symptoms
Up to 20 percent of women suffer from depression during pregnancy, according to the March of Dimes. Symptoms of depression include chronic low energy, constant crying, a persistently sad or anxious mood and thoughts of suicide or death in general, according to Women’s Health.
Moms who experienced depression and anxiety before conception are much more likely to develop more symptoms during pregnancy, according to Women’s Health. Untreated depression and anxiety can also harm your developing baby; children born to depressed or anxious moms are more likely to have a low birth weight and related developmental problems.
Depression and anxiety can happen at any time during or after pregnancy and sometimes go away on their own, according to Women’s Health. However, symptoms that last longer than two weeks or include thoughts of suicide or other harm to yourself or your baby need immediate medical attention.
You cannot safely take benzodiazepines that treat anxiety during pregnancy, according to Massachusetts General Hospital. Tranquilizers such as Valium, Klonopin and Xanax can cause birth defects and drug dependence in your unborn child. Also, medical professionals strongly advise pregnant women to avoid taking the over-the-counter herbal St. John’s Wort while expecting, according to the March of Dimes. Not enough information regarding the potential effects of St. John’s Wort on a growing fetus is available. However, if you’re taking SSRI antidepressant drugs such as Prozac and become pregnant, do not suddenly stop taking your medication without discussing it with your doctor; SSRIs are considered safe for pregnant women.
Types of Treatment
Talk therapy or safe drugs may help an anxious or depressed expectant mom, according to Women’s Health. Joining a mother’s support group has also proved helpful; avoiding other major life changes is also essential toward treating or avoiding possible pregnancy-related depression and anxiety.
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