Depression During Pregnancy And Postpartum: What Every Mother-To-Be Should Know

Depression During Pregnancy And Postpartum

Depression During Pregnancy And Postpartum: What Every Mother-To-Be Should Know

The journey of pregnancy and motherhood can bring not just physical changes but also emotional shifts. When persistent symptoms strike, therapy can help support maternal mental health.

It’s estimated that up to 30% of women experience depression during pregnancy, and up to 40% experience depression during the postpartum period. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now recommends comprehensive screening throughout and following pregnancy as a proactive measure so that expectant and new mothers can get the help they need to manage depression.

The skilled team of mental health professionals at The Center for Cognitive Therapy and Assessment provides compassionate care focusing on your wellness as a whole, and specializes in various types of therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapy to provide supportive care.

When depression strikes during or following pregnancy it can do so without warning. Unlike the typical ‘baby blues’ that many new mothers experience, these symptoms are more intense and longer-lasting, and they can interfere with your ability to care for yourself and your child.

Recognizing the signs

Many women who experience depression during pregnancy or postpartum may not know exactly what’s going on. You may not feel like yourself but are unable to put your finger on the issue. Here are some common signs of depression to watch out for:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Constant worrying
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby
  • Excessive crying and irritability
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of shame or guilt

It’s important to note that experiencing these symptoms doesn’t mean a lack of love for your baby. Depression is a medical condition, not a character flaw or a weakness.

Untreated depression during pregnancy and postpartum can lead to poor nutrition, inadequate prenatal care, risky behaviors like smoking or substance use, and even suicidal thoughts. For the baby, it can mean preterm birth, low birth weight, and developmental problems.

Getting help for pregnancy and postpartum depression

Many women hesitate to seek help due to stigma or guilt, but getting support is crucial.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is grounded in the concept that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected, and by altering negative thought patterns, we can change our emotional responses and behaviors.

For expectant and new mothers, CBT offers practical strategies to cope with overwhelming emotions. It helps in identifying and challenging the often unrealistic standards and beliefs about motherhood that contribute to depressive symptoms.

Through CBT, you learn to reframe these thoughts and develop a healthier, more realistic perspective. The skills acquired in CBT are not just about managing immediate concerns; they are lifelong tools that empower you to handle future stresses and anxieties.

This aspect of CBT is particularly crucial during the transition into motherhood, a period often filled with uncertainty and change. By improving coping mechanisms and promoting mental resilience, CBT can significantly enhance your emotional well-being, positively impacting your ability to bond with and care for your baby.

Forming a strong support system

The support of partners, family, and friends is invaluable. They can assist with childcare, provide emotional support, and encourage you to seek and continue treatment. Health care providers can also play a vital role by screening for depression during and after pregnancy and providing referrals to mental health specialists.

Practicing self-care

Self-care is vital for mothers battling depression. This can include regular physical activity, adequate rest, a balanced diet, and time for personal interests or relaxation. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can also be beneficial.

It’s essential for mothers to remember that taking care of their mental health is just as important as their physical health. If you’re struggling with symptoms of depression during pregnancy or the postpartum period, contact our team at The Center for Cognitive Therapy and Assessment to schedule a consultation.

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