If you're feeling depressed, and it's more than just the waiting-for-baby blues, what treatment options are available? Family Physician Jane Forester urges you to get help, and has some information for you.
What can be done about depression during pregnancy? - Skyler in Dallas, Texas
The expert answers
There are many factors which may play into depressed feelings during pregnancy. Most often depressed feelings, which are new to the patient, are mood swings of pregnancy. These swings often occur during the first trimester of pregnancy. Often times, these are the same group of women who unfortunately experience premenstrual mood swings.
The first approach to lessening the depressed feelings are avoidance of sugar, chocolate, and caffeine. Additionally, it is imperative to achieve a balance between exercise and rest. If this alone does not help, many counseling services are available through your healthcare provider and often getting in touch with your true feelings is step number one to feeling better.
Treating depression during pregnancy pharmaceutically has been a challenge to the physician. Until recently, there has been a lack of reliable information of the effects of antidepressants on the fetus. Women have been put in the unfortunate position between choosing their mental well-being over the possible health of their unborn child.
Finally, in October, 1999, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an excellent article reviewing antidepressant use in the pregnant patient. They conclude that there is no increased risk to the unborn child in the mother using tricyclic antidepressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. However, in pregnant women taking Prozac, a concern still remains regarding the length of time that it takes this drug to clear the bloodstream of the mother, so it may be difficult for the newborn to clear the drug from its system. More research needs to be done in this area of Prozac.
In conclusion, it appears that if drugs are needed during pregnancy for depression, there are now two large classes of drugs that may be used with supervision. Mostly, I encourage anyone feeling depressed during pregnancy to let someone know -- do not keep the feelings inside. Acknowledgment of depression will open many doors that many do people do not even know exist.