Coping with Depression during Pregnancy and Post-Partum

Jeslin Romeo

Depression during pregnancy and post-partum is diagnosed by a health care professional when there are symptoms that persist more than a two-week period. Research shows that around 8-12% of pregnant women; and approx. 10-16% of women are impacted by depression post-partum.

A common question that women ask is: what is the difference between “baby blues” and depression? “Baby blues” is very common and approximately 80% of mothers experience this type of sadness within a week of giving birth. The symptoms of ‘baby blues’ include mood swings, crying, worrying, irritability, feelings of helplessness, sadness, anxiety, and challenges with sleeping. These symptoms improve quickly, and do not require treatment. If these symptoms last for more than two weeks and/or significantly affect the mother’s ability to carry out her daily activities, it may be due to depression.

Women are often surprised when they find themselves experiencing depression during their pregnancy or following the birth of their baby because they expect this to be an exciting time in their life. It is essential to remember the transitions one is experiencing. For example, changes in relationships; role changes in becoming a mother; leaving work on maternity leave; lifestyle changes due to financial pressures; lack of sleep; physical changes to a woman’s body as well as hormone level changes; and the challenges of caring for a new baby.

There are many treatment options available for women experiencing depression which includes Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). In CBT the cognitive component allows one to identify patterns of thinking or self-talk which leads to negative behavior; and allows one to learn new ways to challenge these thoughts as they arise, and to replace it with more accurate or fair thoughts. The behavior component focuses on getting active such as getting dressed and exercising, and to decrease behaviors that worsen symptoms such as staying in bed. CBT allows one to understand the symptoms of depression – thoughts, emotions, body responses, behaviors – and how they are related to and influence the others.

Reference

Postpartum| Reproductive Mental Health: Supporting BC Women’s mental ... (n.d.). Retrieved June 2, 2022, from https://reproductivementalhealth.ca/postpartum

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