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Can Being Depressed While Pregnant Affect the Baby?

depressed while pregnant

Did you know that 13% of pregnant women experience prenatal depression? If you are experiencing depression symptoms while pregnant, you are not alone. It may be more common than you think.

With sudden changes in hormone levels, increased nausea causing you to be unable to eat well, and pregnancy mood swings, it makes sense that so many women experience prenatal depression.

You may be wondering, is treating severe depression during pregnancy important? Some women think since pregnancy doesn’t last forever, their mental illness symptoms will go away eventually.

While that may be true for some, there are other things to consider when experiencing signs of prenatal depression. A mother can experience bouts of depression while pregnant. Can prenatal depression affect the baby? Click here to find the answer.

What Is Prenatal Depression?

If you are feeling depressed while pregnant, you may be wondering if something is wrong with you. Pregnancy is supposed to be a magical time for you to grow and connect with your unborn child.

This is not always the case. Pregnancy can be a challenging time, and as a result, many mothers experience the baby blues, but when is it considered prenatal depression?

Remember that depression looks different for everyone, so what is typical for some may not be for you.

Prenatal depression is a condition where expecting mothers experience extreme mood swings, sadness, or anxiety. If you are wondering if you have prenatal depression, here are some symptoms to watch out for.

Symptoms of Prenatal Depression

Some depression symptoms are also symptoms of pregnancy, such as fatigue or headaches. These signs listed below will help you differentiate between typical pregnancy symptoms and symptoms of depression.

Symptoms include:

  • Hopelessness, sadness, or extreme change in behavior
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Seclusion from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Feelings of worthlessness or like you don’t belong
  • Thoughts of suicide or of hurting yourself
  • Not caring about important things like doctor visits or health
  • Feeling overwhelmed or very stressed
  • Excessive crying

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor right away. Catching prenatal depression early can help you better find treatment and get the care you need.

Causes of Prenatal Depression

There are several different reasons that can cause prenatal depression. There is no defining cause of prenatal depression because mental health is different for everyone.

One possible contributing factor could be the hormone changes that women experience during pregnancy. The shift in brain chemicals can cause your mood to shift drastically.

Your mood can also be affected if you are too sick to eat proper nutrients. One of the most common symptoms of early pregnancy is morning sickness. If you are too ill to eat well, you may experience changes in your mental health because of it.

Pregnancy is a major change in a person’s life. This kind of monumental event can also be triggering on a new mother’s mental health. It can be hard to wrap your head around the fact that your life is about to change drastically.

Prenatal Depression Side Effects

One of the biggest concerns about prenatal depression is whether or not being depressed can affect the baby. The short answer to that would be yes.

If you have prenatal depression and don’t treat it, you could be putting your pregnancy at risk. Women who have not treated their depression have had preterm births and low birth weights for their babies.

It is also possible to develop gestational diabetes from untreated depression. Many people tend to overeat, underexercise, and not care about health and nutrition when they are depressed. All of these things also can put you at risk for gestational diabetes.

Since being depressed can cause someone to neglect their health, it can also put the baby at risk of not getting the proper nutrients it needs to develop.

Some have even noticed that babies born to mothers with untreated depression are less responsive and irritable.

Treating Depression During Pregnancy

If you are experiencing prenatal depression, there are different treatment options you can look into to help both you and your baby. Talk to a doctor and find an option that will work the best for you.

Speak to a therapist or counselor regularly to keep track of your symptoms and make sure you are on the path to getting better. They will also guide you with coping mechanisms and ways you can handle anxiety symptoms.

Having a sound support system to help you battle prenatal depression will help you not feel alone in the process of healing.

If possible, try making specific lifestyle changes that can help your mental health. Try to get regular exercise, even if you don’t feel like doing it. Eating healthy can also sometimes improve your mental health.

Antidepressants While Pregnant

Antidepressants are commonly used to treat depression outside of pregnancy, but many women are hesitant to take them while pregnant.

If your depression is severe, your doctor may recommend taking an antidepressant, but there is not much long-term evidence proving that antidepressants are completely safe during pregnancy.

Some medications may have potentially harmful side effects that can cause issues in your pregnancy.

TMS Therapy

There are other depression treatment methods, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy. This method stimulates certain parts of your brain to reduce the symptoms and effects of depression.

TMS is a non-invasive treatment method that doesn’t have the adverse side effects that antidepressants can have. This makes it a good option for women who are worried about the side effects of medication in their pregnancy.

Don’t Lose Hope

If you are dealing with prenatal depression, you don’t have to feel alone. Talk to others who have gone through it to get advice about treating depression during pregnancy and to gain a sense of community and support.

Talk to your doctor about treatment options that will help you combat your prenatal depression and remove any risk to your baby’s health.

If you want to learn more about treating prenatal depression, postnatal depression, and postpartum depression, contact us today to find out how TMS therapy can help your mental health!

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