Preventing Depression During Pregnancy


Pregnancy is often depicted as a happy and healthy time for a mother-to-be, with images of her and her partner painting a nursery, picking out clothes, and putting together baby furniture. Many people are familiar with postpartum depression, which is a mother who feels extremely depressed post-pregnancy; however, depression during pregnancy is also a real problem that is not so often discussed. Read on to learn about new guidelines for the prevention and treatment of depression during pregnancy, and what to do if you’re feeling a little down during your pregnancy.

The Reality of Depression

It’s estimated that up to 14 percent of women experience depression at some point during their pregnancy. Depression can have slightly different symptoms in different patients. Generally speaking, depression symptoms often include a loss of interest in activities, trouble performing or keeping up with daily tasks, loss of appetite, sleep issues, and feeling sad and/or hopeless. Perinatal depression (depression during pregnancy) or postpartum depression (depression after the baby is born) can have negative and often serious consequences for both the mother and child if not treated. As of February 2019, The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has set forth some guidelines and recommendations for both pregnant patients and their service providers when it comes to perinatal depression.

First-Ever Guidelines

Prior to February 2019, there had been no definitive recommendations when it came to screening for depression in pregnancy or for treating it. The USPSTF has now recommended that medical service providers talk to their pregnant patients about possible depression during the pregnancy, also offering a depression screening. Hopefully, this helps women to feel more comfortable bringing up possible feelings of sadness or hopelessness with their provider, and then seeking treatment for it. Patients will not always divulge such personal feelings or information without being asked. Simply talking about it is a good way to bridge the gap and have a patient feel more comfortable saying something along the lines of, “Well, actually, lately I have been feeling this way.”

When it comes to treatment for depression during pregnancy, the USPSTF recommends cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as first-line treatment. CBT is a type of therapy that aims to replace negative thoughts (which produce negative actions) with positive thoughts (which produce positive actions). It also attempts to eliminate black-and-white thinking (“I am always going to feel this way”). The USPSTF did not find enough evidence when it came to second-line forms of treatment (such as supplements or physical activity) in order to recommend it solidly as a mode of treatment.

Preventing Depression

The task force believes it is a good idea to provide counseling to women who may be at more risk of developing depression during pregnancy. This could include women who have experienced an unplanned pregnancy or previous complications in pregnancy (such as miscarriage), those in abusive situations, those of lower socioeconomic status, and those with a lack of social support, among others. Providing near-immediate counseling is a positive way to try to combat depression before it takes root.

When to See a Doctor

If you’re experiencing feelings of sadness, a loss of joy, or you’re feeling hopeless, it’s a good idea to talk to your medical provider. Even if the feelings you are experiencing don’t turn out to be clinical depression, it’s never a bad choice to talk to someone about the way you’re feeling. If something serious is indeed going on, talking to your doctor can be of grave importance.

If you need more information about perinatal depression, you’d like to be evaluated for a depression screening, or you need maternal care, schedule an appointment at The Woman’s Clinic today. With offices in both Jackson and Madison, we offer convenience as well as the highest level of care.

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