If you or someone you know needs urgent help with depression symptoms, call a crisis line. There is help available.
Depression during pregnancy is common, treatable, and not talked about nearly enough.
It’s also really nuanced. Too often we lump together complex experiences and tie them up in neat little terms like “the pregnant blues.”
It’s just hormones. I guess this is just what pregnancy feels like. There’s just a lot going on right now.
By writing off these very real feelings to I suppose this is par for the course, we end up silencing ourselves.
And then we just cope. Until we can’t.
And it doesn’t have to be that way.
It’s time we changed up the conversation. There are ways to manage and treat all forms of pregnancy depression. It’s not something you have to just struggle through.
In this article: 📝
- Depression while pregnant
- Signs of depression in pregnancy
- How to cope with depression during pregnancy
Depression while pregnant
First, let’s talk about how common this is. Rates of depression in pregnancy range from 7% to 25%, depending on where you live in the world and what your circumstances are.
And then, there are different ways to have depression in pregnancy. It can be:
- A (very normal) response to the massive changes that you are negotiating both within your body and within your life.
- A mental health disorder where you are navigating pre-existing depression while you are pregnant.
Either way, you absolutely do not have to go through it alone.
Here are some of the common questions that come up and how to navigate them:
Is it normal to be in a bad mood during pregnancy?
Yes, totally. For two key reasons:
Hormonal changes. The two main culprits are estrogen and progesterone. They both go on a wild ride during pregnancy. Everyone responds differently to these shifts. For some mamas-to-be, these biological changes mean psychological ones—and yes, mood swings can become a very real thing.
Your whole world is shifting. Pregnancy is up there with the biggest of life changes you can go through. Yes, it’s exciting—but it’s all sorts of other things as well. There are so many things to feel strongly about right now, from pregnancy to parenthood, and that whole giving birth thing that happens in between. It’s no wonder you’re feeling out of sorts.
Is it normal to cry a lot during pregnancy?
Yes. Tears of joy. Tears of frustration. Tears of sadness.
But if the feelings you are having are overwhelming or have stuck around for more than a few days, you may have depression.
Depression is a serious disorder that requires treatment.
Talk to your healthcare provider as soon as you can about accessing the help you need.
Does being sad affect your unborn baby?
New(ish) research is showing just how connected we are to the babies growing inside us. They are getting messages from us all the time.
But that doesn’t mean you have to be some kind of weird robot who doesn’t have any feelings lest they affect your baby.
So here’s the deal: feeling sad now and then will likely not have an impact on your baby—but serious depression might. Depression might also make it harder for you to care for yourself. Eating, moving, and sleeping may not come so easily.
If you’re struggling with serious depression during pregnancy, it’s important to get treatment. Getting the help you need now will help you as you move into mamahood.
Signs of depression in pregnancy
While feeling sad and anxious is common, if your symptoms don’t get better on their own within a few days, you may have depression.
Here are some of the possible symptoms:
- You can’t shake feeling low.
- You cry a lot.
- You feel exhausted.
- You don’t enjoy the things you used to enjoy.
- You want to withdraw from other people.
- You have trouble being comforted.
- You are missing appointments.
- Your relationship with food has changed.
- You feel guilty.
- You feel not good enough.
- You have thoughts of hurting yourself.
You are more likely to suffer from depression during pregnancy if:
- You have a history of depression and/or anxiety.
- Your family has a history of depression and anxiety during pregnancy.
- You have other life stressors (finances, relationships, living conditions). Higher rates of prenatal depression are seen in lower-income countries.
- You are having a challenging pregnancy. Health challenges, from high blood pressure to a thyroid condition to diabetes, can add extra stress to your pregnancy.
- You’ve had a miscarriage before.
- You don’t have the support you need.
- You struggle with substance abuse.
How to cope with depression during pregnancy
The golden rule is that if you’re struggling, reach out. Fair enough. But the irony to the golden rule is that depression often prevents you from doing exactly that.
This isn’t easy, but there is so much help available for you wherever you’re at in this journey.
If you are feeling like your depression is affecting your life, reach out to a healthcare provider so that they can talk through treatment options. What are the options for how to treat depression during pregnancy? The most common are:
- Talk therapy. Two popular approaches are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which helps you with thinking patterns, and Interpersonal Therapy (IT) which helps you with your relationships with others.
- Medication. Yes, it is an option. Talk to your doctor about what antidepressants are safe for you to take right now. They may refer you to a specialist known as a reproductive psychiatrist who will be able to weigh out the risks and propose a course of treatment for you.
And then other really useful tools include:
And then other really useful tools include:
- Acupuncture. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that it helps.
Yoga and meditation. Prenatal classes are designed for you. And if you don’t feel like the stretching part, you can just do the breathing part. Meet yourself where you are.
- Exercise. Depression and exercise have a complicated relationship. It helps but can feel impossible to do when you’re feeling low. Start very small. Like a walk around the block.
- Keying into other mama communities. You are not alone in your experience. It’s amazing what knowing that simple fact can do.
- Reaching out to your loved ones. Connecting when you don’t feel like it is hard. Try. Lean on those around you. There’s zero shame in feeling low.
You really matter. You’re not alone in this. We’re rooting for you. 💕