We hear a lot about postpartum depression. This is when women experience various depression symptoms shortly after giving birth. What we don’t talk about that often is depression during pregnancy, also known as antenatal depression.
Pregnancy is a period of great joy for mothers-to-be, but it’s also a period when big changes happen – both hormonal and physiological. Pregnancy can get incredibly unpleasant, stressful, and frustrating at times.
This is a serious issue, as studies have shown that depression during pregnancy is associated with preterm birth and low birth weight, which increases the mortality of newborns.
Fortunately, many psychotherapists specialize in therapy during pregnancy, and it’s possible for women suffering from depression during pregnancy to find professional help. With the advent of online therapy, finding such a therapist is as easy as it’s ever been.
Seeking psychological help is often a better way to start treating depression instead of resorting to antidepressants right away. Even when antidepressants are needed, they are more often than not supplementary to therapy, not the main form of treatment.
But what causes depression during pregnancy in the first place?
Causes of Depression During Pregnancy
Can pregnancy cause depression? Yes, it can.
While it’s easy to blame hormonal changes, as they are responsible for most things that happen during pregnancy, there are many other causes behind prenatal depression during pregnancy.
According to research, there are many factors that increase the risk of depression during pregnancy, including:
- Having previously had depression
- Domestic violence
- Lack of support
- The pregnancy being unwanted
These factors explain why some women experience depression during pregnancy while others don’t experience any symptoms of depression. At the same time, some of these factors, like stress and lack of support, also explain why depression during pregnancy is more common in developing countries.
What Are Depression Symptoms During Pregnancy?
Psychologists agree that depression during pregnancy is different from major depressive disorder only in the specific circumstances in which it begins – the pregnancy. This means that the depression symptoms themselves are identical, so let’s have a look at those.
Major depressive disorder is diagnosed based on the criteria of persistent depressed mood and inability to experience pleasure lasting for at least 2 weeks, as well as 5 or more of the following:
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Significant weight loss or loss of appetite
- Feeling slow or agitated
- Having no energy to go about your day
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of guilt and low self-esteem
- Suicidal thoughts
Is Depression During Pregnancy Common?
The short answer is that yes, it is.
So if you’re experiencing depression during pregnancy, know that you are not alone, even if this isn’t something people often talk about publicly. And because this condition is so common, therapy for depression during pregnancy is common as well.
What Is Therapy for Depression During Pregnancy Like?
One of the main reasons why psychological problems get worse is because people try to overcome them alone. Seeking help from a mental health professional is more often than not the best way to solve psychological problems effectively.
Group therapy is sometimes advised to women with depression during pregnancy. Group therapy provides an emphatic, supportive social circle led by a psychotherapist who ensures that everything’s going smoothly.
Depression during pregnancy is often treated with the help of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It is a therapeutic approach that aims at creating positive change in your depression symptoms by identifying, challenging, and changing patterns of negative thoughts and behaviors into positive ones.
This is accomplished by a gradual buildup of skills through specialized mental exercises and the guidance of your therapist. For example, with cognitive restructuring, you challenge irrational thoughts or thinking patterns and learn to replace them with rational, realistic ones. While it may take some time to get going, it is very effective.
In Conclusion About Depression During Pregnancy
Depression during pregnancy is a common phenomenon that should not be swept under the rug in the hope it’ll go away. Psychological problems have to be brought to the surface and discussed openly, and it is best to do so with a mental health professional.
Today, reaching out to a mental health professional is so much easier than before. This is thanks to online counseling, which allows you to get psychological help whenever you need it, from the comfort of your home, and at a reduced cost.
Online therapy isn’t just a fix for the situation COVID-19 put us all in. It is here to stay and provide accessible help, support, and treatment to all who need it.
At DoMental, many of our therapists specialize in depression during pregnancy. If you are struggling with this condition, please reach out and get the help you and your baby need.