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Pregnant and Feeling Blue? You’re Not Alone.

Pregnant and Feeling Blue? You’re Not Alone.

Most parents-to-be know about depression after birth, or postpartum depression. But

few know about depression during pregnancy. For one in seven pregnant women, antepartum depression—or depression before childbirth—is real, bringing with it severe negative emotions such as sadness, loss of interest in activities and feelings of hopelessness.

“Women who are pregnant are expected to be overjoyed during their pregnancy and

excited for the upcoming birth of their child, however, for some, changes in hormones,

body and sleeping and eating habits—along with stress and anxiety related to the

birth—can cause or even worsen depression,” said Katherine McDowell, MD, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist on the Medical Staff at Southwest General. “The risks of leaving antepartum depression untreated are great not only to the mental and emotional health of the mom-to-be but also to her physical well-being, along with that of her unborn child.”

Signs of Antepartum Depression

Recognizing antepartum depression (also referred to as maternal depression, prenatal depression and perinatal depression) can be difficult, as signs may be hidden by overarching pregnancy symptoms. Signs to look for include:

  • Low energy
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite, sleep and/or libido
  • Feelings of anxiety, dread and/or low self-esteem
  • Loss of interest in activities you enjoy
  • Feelings of not being prepared
  • Lack of motivation to care for yourself
  • Lack of motivation to follow a pregnancy health plan that includes eliminating smoking, drinking and/or drug use
  • Poor eating
  • Not enough weight gain
  • Lack of, or too much, sleep
  • Suicidal thoughts

Risks Associated with Antepartum Depression

Leaving antepartum depression untreated can result in pregnancy complications,

affecting both you and your baby. Expectant mothers who are depressed are more likely

to develop complications before and after birth such as:

  • Pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy)
  • Low birth weight
  • Early (preterm) delivery
  • C-section delivery
  • Postpartum depression (after birth)
  • A higher risk for baby to have learning difficulties and behavioral problems

Am I at Risk for Antepartum Depression?

Depression during pregnancy can affect any mom-to-be, but is generally heightened for

women who have one or more of the below contributing factors:

  • A history of depression, anxiety or other mood disorders
  • Life stress
  • Lack of social support, such as a partner, family or other parents-to-be
  • Facing an unplanned pregnancy
  • On Medicaid insurance
  • A victim of domestic violence
  • Of lower income or lower education level
  • Smoker
  • Single or in a poor relationship
  • Lack of quality, restful sleep
  • Lack of healthy, nutritious meals, especially with essential nutrients such as vitamins B and D and minerals such as iron and zinc

Treatment for Antepartum Depression

If you think you may be suffering from antepartum depression, Southwest General Medical Group’s Women’s Health Practice can help with screening, diagnosis and treatment options to continue to support the overall health and well-being of both you and your unborn baby. To learn more about our services for expectant mothers, or to schedule an appointment, visit our website.