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Pregnancy ought to be a time of happiness, excitement, and anticipation. The Pink Cloud is propagated so aggressively that any pregnant woman who doesn't feel over the moon all the time may start wondering what's wrong with her.

Pregnancy isn't always such a wonderful period of life, though, and some expectant mothers even develop full-blown antepartum depression. 

What is antepartum depression?

Postpartum depression, depression after giving birth, has become widely known over the last few decades. Most people are now aware of the existence of postpartum depression, and know that it can hit any new mother. Depression in the first phases of motherhood is no longer taboo, and moms aren't judged for a chemical unbalance any more. Depression during pregnancy, antepartum depression, hasn't received the same press. That is a shame, because antepartum depression poses special challenges that require a competent healthcare professional in most cases.

Untreated depression can obviously lead to dangerous forms of "self treatment", such as drinking and smoking. Depression can also trigger suicidal feelings, so immediate medical help is very important. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (more often referred to by its acronym ACOG) warns that up to 23 percent of pregnant women could be suffering from depression. Depression can be triggered by pregnancy hormones, but women who have a family or personal history of depression are more likely to get antepartum depression than others.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of antepartum depression are similar to those of any kind of depression. If you have antepartum depression, you may recognize:

  • Feeling empty and numb.
  • Insomnia not being able to get to sleep and stay asleep.
  • Not enjoying the activities you liked before.
  • Not looking forward to the baby's arrival.
  • You may lose your appetite, or on the other hand possibly notice a constant urge to eat.
  • Anxiety, probably also about your baby.

Prenatal depression diagnosis and treatment

Women who have any symptoms of depression while they are pregnant should not hesitate to talk to their doctor about it. Once you have been diagnosed, therapy is a great option for most women, and one that should be explored by everyone diagnosed with depression. Whether you are offered antidepressant medication depends on the risk/benefit analysis your doctor makes. Some types of SSRI antidepressants are considered low-risk during pregnancy, and tricyclic antidepressants may be another option for you.

Those pregnant women who do need antidepressants to get through their nine months safely should make sure that the prescribing doctor can also contact her OBGYN, so that they can consult each other about possible risks. Natural ways of dealing with antepartum depression include exercise, staying away from processed and sugary foods, and eating a healthy, balanced diet possibly supplemented by herbal remedies for depression. Acupuncture may also help some women who are suffering from antepartum depression.

Does prenatal depression go away when you give birth?

Will your antepartum depression fade away as soon as you give birth, or will you still be struggling after you have had your baby? Fortunately, most mothers who suffered from depression while they were pregnancy find that they feel a lot better almost immediately after birth. As the pregnancy hormones clear up, the depression may disappear as well. That doesn't happen in all cases though. If you find that you are still as depressed as you were when you were pregnant after you give birth, talk to your healthcare provider. You may be affected by a more long-term disorder like bipolar.

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