The Best Kept Secret: Depression During Pregnancy

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The Best Kept Secret: Depression During Pregnancy

Femme enceinte chez le psychologueAccording to the New York Times depression during pregnancy affects up to 15% of expectant women. Some have been depressed for many years, some became depressed when they became pregnant, and others resolved their previous depression with the use of medication usually S.S.R.I.’s or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, and Paxil among many others.

The Controversy About Medication

The controversy is whether to take these medications during pregnancy. Many women stop the medications for fear of harming the fetus and relapse into depression which of course also has ill effects on the baby such as potentially releasing high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Some women are depressed during one pregnancy and not another. There is no clearly researched way to predict.

Why Depression During Pregnancy is Such a Secret

Depression during pregnancy or antenatal depression if addressed might improve postnatal depression, more commonly reported. Antenatal depression stays underreported and untreated because society says pregnancy is supposed to be a joyful time and women feel ashamed that they are not ecstatic while nurturing a new life from within. Of course, this view only adds to depressive thinking.

Even while society is becoming much more open minded and feminism is decades old, this perception of pregnancy continues. We do not openly acknowledge that for many women pregnancy is filled with anxiety, a traumatic change in a woman’s self-image, fears of motherhood, and major life style changes.

The general knowledge that is publicized is that pregnant women should carefully monitor or eliminate any medications at all, be wary of certain foods, monitor and seek advice on exercise and other sorts of changes to insure a healthy baby.

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Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst and author who does psychotherapy with infants and parents, children, adolescents, and adults. Dr. Hollman's new book: Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child's Behavior is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Familius.com. She writes about infant, child and adolescent development, mental health, Parental Intelligence, and a broad range of parenting topics.

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