Despite receiving much attention, postpartum depression appears to be less common than depression during pregnancy, according to a recent study published in a reputed British Medical Journal.
Pregnancy depression can be confusing for women. They can't figure out why they feel bad during a time when they should feel good. However, the reports show that up to 10% of women will experience depression during pregnancy. The most likely women to experience pregnancy depression usually have a personal or family history of depression.
The most common symptoms of depression during pregnancy are: depressed mood, decreased interest in previously pleasurable activities, great loss or increase in appetite, change in sleep patterns, fatigue, excessive feeling of guilt or worthlessness, thoughts of suicide, restlessness and irritability. These symptoms during pregnancy are danger signals and should be recognized and medically treated. Many women suffer needlessly because they do not consider depression as a treatable malady, and hence do not ask for help. If the depression during pregnancy is not treated in time it may lead to premature and low birth-weight infants.
Treating depression is just as important as treating any other health concern during pregnancy. Without treatment, the depression can get worse or be harmful to the baby or mother. Studies also show that postpartum depression is more likely to occur if pregnancy depression remains untreated. There are many treatment options available to help depression. The researchers found that depression is higher at 32 weeks of pregnancy than at 8 weeks postpartum.
In addition to the medical treatment, one can take a few steps to ensure that the pregnancy depression is counteracted upon.
1. Communication: make sure you keep communication lines open with your dear ones, and you share your feelings on a constant basis
2. Exercise regularly: Exercise brings about a good feeling by releasing the body's mood-elevating compounds, and reducing the depression hormone cortisol.
3. Eat balanced diet: Take care of the dietary requirements and introduce the necessay changes keeping in mind taste and nutrition value
4. Ensure adequate rest: Rest and sleep should be promoted during pregnancy. In case you seem to loose control, medical treatment should be sought urgently
5. Keep company of others: Pregnancy depression often attacks when one keeps to one self. Ensure that you have company on a regular basis, or join mother's clubs where exchange of thought and feelings can be freely achieved.
6. Take out time to do something you enjoy: While this rule stands even for the time when one is not pregnant, during pregnancy it has high significance. Taking out time to specifically bring joy to oneself, promotes good feelings and counter depression.
7. Be realistic: Certain amount of nervousness and helplessness in the face of motherhood are expected and should be taken as healthy anxiousness in the face of a new phase in life.