Depression During a Pregnancy

I've heard a lot about the post-partum blues, but is it normal to be feeling emotionally down before the baby arrives? I'm currently about three-quarters of the way through my pregnancy, and lately I've been very low and sad. Is there anything I can do about this?

There’s nothing abnormal about feeling low during a pregnancy. As your OBGYN may have told you, a woman’s hormones take a rollercoaster ride both during pregnancy and after delivery. It’s these hormonal changes that cause a temporary emotional slump popularly known as “baby blues” (which affects between 50 and 80 percent of new moms) as well as a more severe disturbance known as postpartum depression. It stands to reason then that the same hormonal shifts should have the potential to cause similar mood swings before the baby arrives.

Naturally, we can’t make any definite statements about your case without knowing a great deal more about you. It’s always possible that your feelings of sadness may be the result of a situational depression. We’d encourage you to take some time to reflect on your current circumstances. Is there something besides pregnancy going on in your life that may be causing the dip in your emotions? Is your relationship with your husband strong and healthy? Is he supportive and available? If you’re currently working, are you dealing with an appreciable amount of stress on the job? If you’re planning on leaving the workplace after your baby is born, are you feeling sad about quitting and losing close relationships with your co-workers? Sadness caused by these types of stresses may indeed be “normal” and not related to
clinical depression, but feelings of sadness that are disruptive and last longer than a couple of weeks may be a sign of clinical depression. The possibility of clinical depression is especially important to consider if you have a personal or family history of depression.

Once you’ve taken some time to sort through these questions, make an appointment with a psychiatrist or your OBGYN for the specific purpose of discussing your depression. He or she can discuss the various treatment options with you. If your depression is severe, the doctor may want to prescribe an anti-depressant medication. Anti-depressants are generally quite safe, but there are risks to taking any type of medication during pregnancy. Your physician will know best how to proceed in your particular case.

Another option would be a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in something called cognitive-behavioral therapy. This form of counseling has been shown to be effective in treating depression without medication. To find out more, feel free to contact Focus on the Family’s Counseling department.



Focus on the Family Complete Guide to Baby and Child Care

Freedom From Depression Workbook

5 Keys for Dealing With Depression

Take Charge of Your Emotions

Mental Health (resource list)

Hart Institute



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