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We’ve all heard of the “baby blues” — but what happens when the blues come before the baby? It’s estimated that for every 10 women, one or two will exhibit symptoms of depression during pregnancy. For those who are already predisposed to depression, the surge of pregnancy hormones can alter levels of brain chemicals and exacerbate the condition, known as antepartum depression.
How do you know if you’re clinically depressed? Many of the signs can be attributed to other causes, which can make the medical disorder challenging to diagnose. The key is careful self-monitoring. If you experience any of the following symptoms for a period of two weeks or more, you should consult your obstetrician or health care provider:
• Persistent feelings of sadness
• Excessive fatigue or sluggishness
• Disinterest in activities you once enjoyed
• Difficulty focusing on one topic or activity
• Loss of appetite, or a suddenly insatiable one
• Suicidal thoughts or tendencies
The safety of anti-depressant medication during pregnancy is a subject of some controversy among medical professionals. When considering an antidepressant, such as Prozac, Zoloft, or Paxil, it’s important to carefully weigh the potential benefits with risks to the fetus.
If you’re not comfortable with the risk associated with antidepressant medication during pregnancy, there are alternate methods of treatment. Holistic therapies such as support groups, light therapy, and psychotherapy can help restore feelings of well-being and minimize risk to you and your baby’s health.