Treatment for Depression During Pregnancy | cannabisMD

The Treatment Options for Depression During Pregnancy

The Treatment Options for Depression During Pregnancy

Pregnancy and childbirth are supposed to, for the most part, bring happiness into a woman’s life. But many women will experience mood disorders because of pregnancy-related brain chemical depletion. The most common disorder associated with pregnancy is postpartum depression. According to the research, between 12%-15% of pregnant women suffer from depression during or after pregnancy. Many factors can raise your risks of developing postpartum such as:

  • No social support
  • An unwanted pregnancy
  • Having multiple children
  • Facing problems with your marriage
  • Living alone
  • Premature birth
  • Miscarriage

The above factors may increase your chances of developing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even if everything is situationally fine, you can still become depressed during or after pregnancy. At the start of pregnancy, your brain chemistry shifts, destabilizing certain neurotransmitters. After birth, the most common time to develop postpartum, those chemicals are depleted.

Clinical depression is an overarching category for a type of mood disorder. Depression causes:

  • Loss of interest in things
  • Feelings of deep sadness
  • Change in behavior
  • Abrupt tendencies
  • Low sense of well-being

Depression is a severe medical condition many women can experience during and after pregnancy. Let’s explore treatment options for soon-to-be and new mothers.

Treatments for Postpartum Depression?

Treatments for postpartum depression are a serious matter. It can be difficult to treat depression when there’s a fetus involved. It is particularly difficult if a woman takes psychiatric medications and is already prone to depression during pregnancy. If, during pregnancy, she discontinues her antidepressant medication, she may struggle with extreme depression. However, many of these medications are known for harming pregnancies.

A woman who is suffering from pregnancy-related depression should educate herself on postpartum and reach out for support. It is recommend to seek out professional counselling during the postpartum period. When we say postpartum period, we mean six weeks after childbirth. There are many biological, hormonal, and psychological changes that happen after giving childbirth.

Non-Pharmaceutical Therapies

There are commonly recommended types of therapies to treat depression during or after pregnancy:

  1. Psychotherapy is a common treatment for people experiencing mental illnesses or situational difficulties. This talk therapy can help ease depression and teach patients how to cope with troubling symptoms.
  2. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of group psychotherapy for treating certain mental illnesses. It helps to change the way a person thinks. Its goal is to teach you healthy coping.
  3. Supportive Psychotherapy is a standard therapy that most physicians offer. The goal is to help the patient improve in self-confidence. Supportive psychotherapy is known to help a person to refocus attention and can ease depression.
  4. Conjoint Therapy is from the word “conjoint,” meaning two or more patients together in a session. For example, it may refer to marriage counseling when a wife is undergoing postpartum depression. It can be a structured place to deal with marital anxieties.
  5. Other non-medical treatments include:
    • Increasing of nutrition in diet
    • Getting rid of caffeine
    • Getting rid of nicotine and other vices such as drinking alcohol
    • Getting proper sleep
    • Improving hygiene.

Pharmaceutical Treatments

These treatments involve taking a medicine or drug. This is considered the secondary treatment option for postpartum. Medication treatment may help, but make sure that your physician prescribes it and is monitoring you.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are an antidepressant drug. They were long used during pregnancy in Denmark. Now, they are used worldwide to cure depression during pregnancy. The primary goal of SSRIs is to increase levels of “serotonin” (a neurotransmitter in our brain). Low serotonin is thought to be a trigger for depressive symptoms in some. SSRIs have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat depression.

However, be cautious, many adverse effects have been documented when giving birth, including:

  • Decreased birth weight
  • Weakening of gestation (the development of a child inside a woman’s uterus)
  • Lower Apgar scores

Apgar scores refer to the physical condition of a newborn baby to determine if they need special care. Apgar stands for:

  • Appearance
  • Pulse
  • Grimace
  • Activity
  • Respiration

Unfortunately, with low Apgar scores, a newborn infant will experience anxiety, continuous sobbing and disruption of feeding and sleeping.

Although SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, other non-SSRIs also used. Venlafaxine is also an antidepressant. It is an SNRI, not an SSRI, that according to a recent study, may come with an increased risk of dose-related hypertension. Use of SSRIs during late-term pregnancy increases risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension in a newborn child. Other factors of hypertension in pregnancy are smoking, obesity, prematurity, and cesarean section. All in all, the risk of using antidepressants in pregnancy are relatively small.

If depression during pregnancy is so severe that a woman is not eating and losing weight, care must be sought immediately. For mild depression, it is highly suggested to undergo a therapy session. If experiencing major depression and on pharmaceutical treatment, it is recommended to stay the course. If the patient suddenly stops the treatment, it will increase their depressive symptoms, according to a study.

If a pregnant woman has a dangerous mental health condition, it can negatively impact the fetus. Depression triggers suicidal ideation. A person who is struggling with depression needs empathy and support from loved ones.

If you plan to use conventional medications, assure there are low risks for your fetus or breastfeeding newborn. If problems persist or are severe, speak to obstetricians and gynecologists, health care providers, or mental health professionals. Before treatment, assure you speak to the proper authorities. Untreated depression festers, but it is treatable with medical supervision.

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