Most people believe that pregnancy protects a woman from depression. This is not true. Statistics show that at least 20% of women experience symptoms of depression during pregnancy and almost 10% of women develop major depression. Women who have had depression symptoms before are more likely to experience it again during pregnancy.
These women, suffering from major depression, are given antidepressants as medication. If this medication is stopped during the pregnancy, it is quite possible that the woman would slip into major depression during that time. It is very difficult to treat depression during a pregnancy since there are chances of developing complications in the child's birth or growth. Medicating antidepressants to a pregnant mother can increase the chances of harming the child. On the other hand not treating depression can lead to serious risks for the mother as well as the child.
Depression can be treated in two ways:
This type of treatment consists of therapy and counseling with a mental health professional. Women have to attend support groups or even have one-on-one sessions with the psychologist. For women who don't have major depression, individual or group therapy is enough to help them.
Some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, which occurs during fall or winter and when there is less sunlight. This is treated with light therapy. The patient is supposed to look into a box of special light bulbs for a particular amount of time in the day. In cases of severe depression, ECT is used. ECT or electroconvulsive therapy involves the passage of current through the brain.
This type of treatment involves antidepressant pills along with a few sessions with a psychologist in order to treat depression. A woman taking antidepressants, who wishes to get pregnant should consult her doctor.
The first twelve weeks of pregnancy are very critical if the mother is on medication. The medication can cause malformations in the fetus. If the mother has had only mild antidepressants, the doctors gradually stop the medication after pregnancy is detected. For women who have experienced major depression symptoms before conceiving, medications are continued or the mother is made to switch to a safer drug.
In the later months of pregnancy, there are very few chances of causing a malformation of organs. However, there are questions of medication causing a miscarriage or the possibility in stunting the future development of the child. Women, who have been prescribed antidepressants during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, are asked to continue the drug during the rest of the months as well.
Women, who have not experienced depression at any point of time prior to the pregnancy, are suggested to go through many sessions and therapies before any medication is prescribed to them.
There are many types of psychotherapy used in treating women suffering from depression.
Interpersonal therapy: This kind of therapy focuses on reducing the strain in the woman's mind that causes mood disorders in a relationship.
Cognitive behavioral therapy: This therapy aims at finding out and changing the negative thoughts in a mother's mind that are leading her into depression.
Most doctors prefer psychotherapy for pregnant women as this reduces the risk of harming the fetus through the depression pills. Psychotherapy starts working gradually and will not start showing its effects until two months into the sessions. One can be rest assured that the benefits of this treatment will be long lasting.