Coping with Anxiety and Depression During Pregnancy

Today, we’re talking about perinatal mood
and anxiety disorders. We usually think of pregnancy and the time when we bring
the baby home as a really happy time and it is for most women, but for about one in
five women this is a time that’s really challenging because they are starting to
experience symptoms of depression or symptoms of anxiety. It’s important to
recognize that this does not mean that you’re a bad mom, but in fact, this is one
of the number-one complications of pregnancy and happens to a lot of women.
For depression, it’s usually something that is experienced as sadness that
lasts for days not just for brief moments in time. Also, you can experience
feeling things that usually are joyful are no longer joyful. You don’t enjoy
doing the things you normally like doing. You might have trouble sleeping. You
might not have any appetite and you might experience profound fatigue. The
great news is that we have really good treatments for depression both during
pregnancy and after that include talking to a therapist or a counselor and
talking to your obstetrician who can provide medicine if that’s what’s best
for you and your baby. About the same number of women also experience anxiety.
That can mean excessive worry, worrying about everything under the sun,
or it could be very specific fears that you have like fears of harm coming to
your baby which happen to a lot of women. Anxiety can be really
debilitating for some women and can even include symptoms of obsessive-compulsive
disorder. Those include obsessions which are recurrent thoughts that you
can’t get out of your head, things like fearing germs or fearing
that you’re going to be contaminated if you touch things.
Those are often followed by behaviors that we call compulsions that
you do to try to make those fears go away so for some people that’s washing
their hands excessively or cleaning the house over and over again. While a lot of
people experience anxiety normally, when it gets to really interfere with your
daily life, it’s something that you should seek help for. Now a lot of women
that I talk to who have been experiencing symptoms of depression or
symptoms of anxiety tell me that they actually started during their pregnancy
but they didn’t feel comfortable telling anybody. What we really want to let
people know is that these are very common and it doesn’t mean that you’re
losing your mind. It just means that physiologically something is happening
in your body that happens to a lot of pregnant women or women after they have
a baby and that is causing your brain to not function the way it does normally,
so we would encourage everyone who is experiencing these symptoms to talk to
your family about it. Talk to your doctor about it and to feel comfortable getting
help because the good news is that when women do get help for these symptoms, not
only do they feel better, they tell me that they also interact with their
babies in a much more enjoyable way. We know that that helps the infants
develop better over time.

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