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Learning About Depression During Pregnancy

Who is at risk for depression during pregnancy?

Some women who are pregnant struggle with depression. It may start when you are pregnant. Or you may have had it before. If you had depression before, you are more likely to have it during your pregnancy. It may also be more likely if you feel anxious about your pregnancy or if you've had problems with a pregnancy before.

No one should feel ashamed about depression. It is a disease. You are not weak. And you don't have a character flaw. When you have depression, chemicals in your brain are out of balance. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters.

Managing depression is important for your own health. But it will also help you to have a healthy baby. You can treat depression with counselling, medicines, or both of these. Lifestyle changes may also help.

How do you know if you are depressed?

With all the changes in your life, you may not know if you are depressed. Pregnancy sometimes causes changes in how you feel that are similar to the symptoms of depression.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless and losing interest in daily activities. These are the most common symptoms of depression.
  • Sleeping too much or not enough.
  • Feeling tired. You may feel as if you have no energy.
  • Eating too much or too little.
  • Writing or talking about death, such as writing suicide notes or talking about guns, knives, or pills.
  • Keep the number for your nurse call line or your provincial suicide prevention hotline on or near your phone. If you or someone you know talks about suicide or feeling hopeless, get help right away.

How is depression during pregnancy treated?

  • Counselling. This can focus on how you feel about your pregnancy, your relationships, and changes in your life. It gives you emotional support. And it can help you solve problems and set goals. One type of counselling helps you take charge of how you think and feel. This is called cognitive-behavioural therapy.
  • Antidepressant medicines. These medicines may improve or get rid of depression symptoms. Whether you need them depends a lot on how bad your symptoms are. Talk to your doctor about whether this medicine is right for you.

You can also get regular exercise, healthy food, fresh air, and time with people who care about you. These are all important ways to prevent and treat depression and have a healthy pregnancy.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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