- In This Feature
- Women and Depression
- Signs and Symptoms
- Depression and Pregnancy—Is There a Link?
- The Role of the Spouse and Family During Treatment
Depression and Pregnancy—Is There a Link?
The NAMI reveals that recent research has estimated between 10 to 15 percent of women experience depression during pregnancy, and there is a three-fold increase in risk for developing a depressive disorder during or following the pregnancy among women with a past history of mood disorder. "The shift back to the pre-pregnancy hormonal state can be associated with depression. The sleep deprivation associated with those first few weeks (in some cases, sleep deprivation can go on for years) and months after the baby is born can be very hard on one's sense of well being," states Dr. Rogan.
Sleep deprivation can also exacerbate a pre-existing depression in both pregnant and non-pregnant women. "Typically, the inability to sleep is a symptom of depression or anxiety and warrants attention," explains Margaret Howard, Director of the Post-partum Depression Day Hospital at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University.
New mothers often suffer from feelings of maternal guilt and/or inadequacy, and if they don't have someone with whom they can share their feelings, that may bring on a heavy burden. "Not having an extended family or friends nearby or knowing others who have gone through it themselves and provide an understanding ear can contribute to a new mother's sense of isolation. Excessive guilt is one of the cardinal symptoms of depression," says Dr. Rogan.
Pregnant women who suffer from depression must be aware of the potential risks that certain antidepressants may have to their developing newborn. It is imperative for a pregnant woman (or a woman who is contemplating conceiving) with depression to consult with her physician.