One of the happiest times in a woman’s life is pregnancy. But for several mothers-to-be, these nine months mean a time of confusion, mood swings, fear, stress and depression. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), about 14-23 percent of women will struggle with some symptoms of depression during pregnancy. Unfortunately, the mental disorder is often neglected during pregnancy because it is mistaken as yet another type of hormonal imbalance.
Carolyn (name changed), 26, from Riverside is a new mother. Her baby girl is less than two months old. She’s been spending sleepless nights attending to her child ever since she was discharged from the hospital. Despite the changes in her lifestyle, she feels it’s worth the pain. However, even the slightest of matters begin to depress her, taking a heavy toll on her life. Regular dizziness, jittery feelings and a pounding heart have made matters worse for her.
Carolyn always seems to fear for her baby’s well-being and safety. Anticipating the unexpected, she continues to battle a raging storm in her mind. “What if I go out and she starts crying uncontrollably” and “what if someone snatched her away from my arms” are some of the many depressing thoughts which continue to plague her mind. So, she often ends up asking for repeated reassurances and unnecessary advice from her mother, friends and care providers, surfing the Internet for answers to the innumerable questions arising in her mind, avoiding stepping out of the house and obsessively reading a lot of books and magazines on parenting. Her other manifestations of fear and anxiety include compulsive checking on her baby over and over throughout the night just to make sure that everything is fine and fearfully muttering prayers seeking God’s protection from any possible harm.
Similar to clinical depression involving hormonal changes, which make alterations in brain chemistry, depression during or after pregnancy is further exacerbated by the ups and downs of life, causing an emotional upheaval in many women. Caring for a newborn at home can bring about some feelings of anxiety in women whether it is her first tryst with motherhood or the fifth, which is a perfectly normal and adaptive response in women. But, in certain women, prolonged bouts of anxiety tend to impair her ability to experience the joys of this beautiful phase of life and prevents her from taking good care of her new baby and herself.
Experts say that children born to mothers experiencing prenatal and postpartum depression are most likely to suffer mental health problems because they share the same common risk genes. As the United States is celebrating the Mother’s Day on May 14, it is important to ensure that such mothers receive professional mental health care and support as early as possible.
Symptoms of depression during pregnancy and early motherhood
Depression begins to manifest over a period of time in multiple ways and the symptoms can differ widely in women. Some common symptoms of depression observed in pregnant women are drastic changes in eating habits and sleeping patterns, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, lack of interest in daily activities and hobbies, low self-esteem and tendency to cry without a valid reason.
Women need to be made aware of the fact that if neglected, mild depression may also lead to chronic depression causing miscarriage or pre-term labor. Those who experience symptoms of depression must make all efforts to seek professional help. It is important to remember that depression is not something shameful and will not reduce one’s abilities as a mother or love for the child. Some of the possible factors known to trigger depression during pregnancy are:
- Problematic or troubled relationships
- Effects of treatments taken for fertility
- Personal or family history of depression
- Previous experience of miscarriage
- Stressful or traumatic life events
- Painful experience of abuse
- Complications in pregnancy
If left untreated, depression can pose several dangers to both the mother and the child. Babies born to mothers suffering from depression may exhibit slowed activity and lowered attention span, besides agitation as compared to babies born to mothers without depression. Prolonged depression during pregnancy can often cause significant dietary deficiencies, addiction to alcohol and tobacco and suicidal tendencies in women. Whereas the babies of such women are highly vulnerable to premature birth, low birth weight and developmental problems in their later lives.
Sovereign Health can help
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), maternal depression is a major public health problem in the U.S., with 10 percent children experiencing a depressed mother in any given year. Dealing with depression and understanding what causes depression during and post pregnancy can be a daunting task requiring a sensitive approach to ensure the woman that seeking professional help will not harm the unborn child in any way.
Many women experiencing mood swings, anxiety or depression during such a vulnerable phase of life tend to assume that antidepressant medications are the only solution. But, very few know that other experiential therapies for mental health such as exercise, acupuncture, psychotherapy and membership of support groups also go a long way in combating afflictions of the mind.
Moreover, learning about what causes depression and choosing the best options for treating depression on the same lines as in the case of other chronic diseases helps eradicate the underlying causes of depression. Regular check-ups and monitoring of treatment adherence increase chances of recovery.
Above all, an early mental health diagnosis from a reputed and professional mental health services provider is essential to nip the problem in the bud or else they can be immensely devastating. The Sovereign Health Group is one of the leading mental health institutions in the U.S., which provides mental health treatment services for all kinds of psychiatric disorders including time-tested recuperative therapies for depression as well as personalized help for depression.
Sovereign Health of San Clemente, California offers a variety of customized options for treatment of depression suited to treat the person holistically. Patients can opt for individual and group psychotherapy, or alternative therapeutic activities to regain control of their lives. Whether you wish to know how to overcome depression or are looking for world-class rehabs for depression in California or at a place closer home, we have facilities in all major places in the country. Call at our 24/7 helpline or chat online to know about the most effective treatment for depression.