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Pregnant With Depression, Anxiety and Stress

by Katlyn Joy | March 30, 2009 12:00 AM
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Pregnant With Depression, Anxiety and Stress

Pregnancy brings so many changes to woman's life. Her body is constantly changing, and the hormones fueling the changes bring added stresses or emotional highs and lows. With so many huge life adjustments looming, it's no wonder that pregnant women can experience significant stress, anxiety and depression.

There are days when tears will flow, others when tempers may spike unexpectedly, or some when the urge to pull up the blanket and stay in bed will be strong. This is normal with everything that's happening in a pregnant woman's world.

However, sometimes the mood does not lift, and a woman experiences prolonged periods of stress, anxiety or depression. If a mood hangs on every day for a period of longer than two weeks, it's time to seek help. Self diagnosis is tricky and therefore it's best to seek out professional help. Talk to your physician, and don't hold back on how you have been feeling. This is no time to try to cover up the reality of your situation. No guilt or self-condemnation is necessary. Tell your doctor details of how you have felt and how you have attempted to deal with the stressors and moods.

Your doctor will look at your overall health, living situation and work with you to develop a plan for dealing with the problems. Basically, two different paths to treatment can be followed, sometimes in combination. The first approach will address the problem with lifestyle adjustments and therapy. The second is to treat with medication.

Medications for depression can be taken while pregnant, but you will want to discuss the various options available and determine what risks exist in taking the drug. The risk/benefit ratio should be discussed. Untreated depression carries a significant risk to both mother's and baby's health. Find out what types of side effects the medication is known to have, what the effectiveness of the drug is supposed to be, and what effect the drugs can have on the unborn baby.

In the case of anxiety, generally the most widely used class of drugs for treating this condition are not permissible during pregnancy. Benzodiazepines are known to be harmful to developing fetuses and cannot be prescribed to pregnant women. However, there are atypical medications with a much lower risk profile which may be prescribed.

To combat depression, anxiety and stress, certain lifestyle changes can be helpful.

Sleeplessness can contribute to many emotional conditions. Try to maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Keep work out of the bedroom, aim for a consistent bedtime, and create a comfortable sleep environment.

Regular exercise is also beneficial when trying to create a more peaceful, content life. Just be certain that your doctor approves of the program you follow and that you don not overdo it to make up for missed times. Try to be consistent with the level of exercise you get. Walking, swimming, and yoga specifically geared to pregnant women are especially good for expectant mothers to try.

A healthy diet can be helpful in warding off emotional issues, too. Maintain a consistent, balanced diet. Try to keep track of how you are doing in getting the nutrients necessary for maintaining your metabolism and building a healthy baby.

Keeping a journal will help you clear those thoughts out of your mind that you find most troubling, and sometimes the mere act of recording and expressing them, will do much to provide insight into the situation. Keeping the journal regularly will provide on overall picture of emotional health and might reveal patterns at play in your life.

Learning to say no can also be most helpful. Overextending yourself during pregnancy is simply not an option. Nothing positive can come from an overwrought mom! Don't feel guilty or the need to explain your no's either. It's simply not the time to be over committed.

Talking to a counselor is another approach to dealing with excessive stress, depression or anxiety. Discuss relaxation techniques to use at home to lower the stress levels in your life. Especially concentrate on breathing techniques to combat stress.

If you are overwhelmed, consider getting help with household duties for awhile. This can be as simple as letting friends or family help out with the housework or grocery or errands, or even hiring a cleaning person to come to your home regularly to help lighten your load.

Try to rest whenever your body tells you that you need it. Go ahead, put your feet up and try to relax. Don't fall into a trap of denying yourself what you need to stay functional.

Don't forget to have fun. Having time to goof off, laugh and simply enjoy yourself is not trivial or selfish, it's vital and healthy. Go to a movie, go bowling or see a comedy show. What you do is not as important as doing something for the express purpose of having fun.

Signs of Depression

Katlyn Joy is a freelance writer, and just graduated with a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing. She is mom to seven children, and lives in Denver, Colorado.

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