It should be the happiest time in a woman's life, but a growing number of soon-to-be-moms are experiencing severe depression. A new study from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, has found that 23 percent of women are depressed during pregnancy, and the number of women taking anti-depressants during pregnancy has doubled in the last decade.
According to MSN Health, psychiatrists used to believe that pregnant women were protected from mood disorders by increased estrogen levels and excitement over having a baby. However, new research found that depression while pregnant is as common as depression after the baby is born. Now they believe that the hormone surge pregnancy brings on disrupts a woman's brain chemistry, leading to depression. The mother isn't the only one affected by mood changes. Researchers have found that women who struggle with mood disorders are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and skip pre-natal appointments. That could set their baby up for physical problems like Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or low birth-weight. When the body is stressed, it goes into fight-or-flight mode, which sends blood rushing to the limbs and brain and away from a growing baby.
Even with all the dangers many women are afraid to get help. The thinking is that if they're not overjoyed about the baby then there's something wrong with them. However, that's not the case; depression is a treatable illness - not a personal failing. If you think you may be depressed or have a history of depression don't let it go untreated. If you have feelings of worthlessness and irritability along with insomnia and crying bouts for two weeks it could be a diagnosable illness. If you're going to be a mother and are thinking about going off your antidepressants, don't do it without talking to your doctor. There are some pregnancy safe anti-depressants on the market or ask your doctor about non-drug treatments you can try.