Depression During Pregnancy

What Is Depression?

Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood and thought. It affects the way a woman feels about herself and the way she thinks about things. This article addresses two types of depression:

Major depression: This serious illness interferes with a person’s ability to work, study, sleep, eat and enjoy oneself. It may appear once in a person's life, but more often occurs several times.

Dysthymia: This is a less severe type of depression. Persons with this illness have long-term symptoms. They are able to conduct day-to-day activities, but they don't always function well or feel good. They may also have episodes of major depression.

Depression carries serious risks for the pregnant woman and her baby. These risks include:

  • Poor weight gain
  • Use of drugs or alcohol to self-medicate
  • Suicide

Depressed mothers are often less able to care for themselves or their children, or to bond with their children.

What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

A woman who is depressed feels sad or "blue" and has other symptoms that last for two weeks or longer. The other symptoms include the following:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sleeping too much
  • Lack of interest
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in appetite
  • Restlessness, agitation or slowed movement
  • Thoughts or ideas about suicide

Things other than depression can cause some of these symptoms. For instance, changes in appetite and trouble sleeping are common in pregnancy. Some medical conditions, such as anemia and hypothyroidism, can cause a pregnant woman to lack energy.

you have any of these symptoms, talk to your health care provider. He or she will check to see what might be causing your symptoms. You need to be checked for depression if symptoms continue and interfere with your daily life and if your provider rules out other medical conditions.

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