Antenatal Depression: Increased Study Brings Increased Concern

Psychological issues that encourage people to seek professional help can affect clients of any age and situation, but women who have recently given birth are often indicated as being at a somewhat high risk of developing post-partum depression. This concern has been shown to have considerable potential effects on children, and has been the subject of numerous studies in recent decades. Yet antenatal depression, which is experienced during pregnancy or within the preceding nine months, is realizing greater attention within the professional and academic communities. Studies conducted on antenatal depression have suggested that women who experience symptoms including hopelessness, profound sadness, a lack of motivation, and other issues before or during pregnancy may be at a much higher risk of being affected by postpartum depression.

Also troubling, recent research connects antenatal depression with increased rates of violent behavior in teens whose mothers were afflicted with the issue. The children of mothers who experienced depression during pregnancy were also more likely to experience developmental difficulties, and some researchers have suggested that hormonal imbalances in the womb caused by substance abuse and other potentially dangerous behaviors may also result from the condition of being depressed.

Some psychiatric drugs indicated for those with symptoms of depression may be undesirable for expectant mothers, and obstetricians often advise against their use during pregnancy. The role of psychotherapy and other treatments may therefore become even more crucial for pregnant mothers as the prevalence and severity of antenatal depression becomes clearer. Through expanding therapy services to mothers-to-be while continuing research into the potential impacts of depression on the well-being of both mother and baby, today’s professionals may help ensure that tomorrow’s children receive a mentally healthier start.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Pearl

    Pearl

    February 12th, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    I’ve never heard of antenatal depression. That makes sense though. Having and caring for a new baby is very stressful. If you’re already depressed, that could indeed aggravate that more.

  • Nicole

    Nicole

    February 12th, 2010 at 2:05 PM

    Being a mother-to-be is a lwhole lot of joy but comes with its own anxiety, the anxiety about the wefare of the unborn baby, the various procedures and care to be taken…all the advices coming in from various quarters, etcetra…all this can take a toll on a mother-to-be and hence they may indeed have a higher risk compared to others.

  • Shona

    Shona

    February 12th, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    You would think that doctors would look for that closely if they already knew the woman was suffering from antenatal depression. It doesn’t seem much of a leap to go from there to postpartum depression.

  • Rene Dupree

    Rene Dupree

    February 12th, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    Although almost anything can be treated with meds, meds should be avoided during pregnancy and proper counselling should be given to mothers-to-be who are suffering from depression and other psycholgical problems…

  • Ellen

    Ellen

    February 13th, 2010 at 5:54 AM

    Pregnancy is such a scary and exhilarating process all rolled into one- if you have a great support system then I think it would be less likely that you will experience this kind of depresison, because everything is so exciting. But this is not the case for each pregnant woman. There are some who are worried about paying the bills wondering how they will feed another mouth, and may even have other domestic issues going on as well. I hope that there are OB-GYNs out there who are really paying attention to this trend and who are carefully looking for it in their own patients. And the same thing goes for family members of the pregnant woman. If you suspect that there is something going on it is the right thing to do to talk to a nurse or a doctor and get her the help that she needs because she cannot overcome it alone.

  • Cal

    Cal

    February 14th, 2010 at 5:04 PM

    My wife was depressed the whole time she was pregnant. She felt scared and had all of this fear inside about what was going on and how she would cope when the baby got here. It was like she wanted a baby but when she got pregnant all of that went away and she was consumed by her depression. I felt helpless and she had to go to counseling the whole pregnancy. She is getting better now but it was a very trying time for us. Luckily the baby was strong and healthy and we have that to look forward to but there are still times when it frightens me to think about what we went through to get him here.

  • Cara J

    Cara J

    February 15th, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    Teenage pregnancy is enough of a problem by itself. Add to that the growing concerns over antenatal depresison and you have yet another serious health concern on our hands. This is no way to bring a child into the world but it is happening every day.

  • susan

    susan

    February 15th, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    along with professional help including counseling and other methods, what is also required is all the support new mothers can get from their families. This may not require the most expensive things or anything but care from the family’s side. dont you think???

  • tanya

    tanya

    February 16th, 2010 at 2:36 AM

    a person going through a change is more prone to depression compared to when there is no major change… although the birth of a child is a happy occasion for a mother, it is a change nevertheless and the same happens…the mother becomes more prone to depression and other psychological problems. this can be preventedthrough regular screening of new moms.

  • Eliza

    Eliza

    February 16th, 2010 at 7:38 AM

    I know that accidents happen but if you aren’t planning to be happy with having a baby then why get pregnant in the first place?

  • T.edwards

    T.edwards

    February 16th, 2010 at 12:05 PM

    new mothers should be given counseling regarding their new role and the changes that are going to be happening in their lives after the arrival of their bundle-of-joy. It would, in fact, make more sense if the counseling starts at the later stages of the pregnancy itself. this would prepare the mother-to-be for the arrival of the baby and the changes that are to come.

  • Joan

    Joan

    February 18th, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    Does renaming it help treat it any better? Surely if the antenatal depression is already there it’s the same bout of depression. Yes — one’s before and one’s after the baby’s birth, but does that matter?

  • natalie

    natalie

    February 19th, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    Woa woa woa… My husband and I tried for a year, seeing a fertility specialist and everything for me to get pregnant. I WANTED a baby. I planned on being happy having a baby. And initially, I was… but after a while, I noticed I wasn’t anymore. That made me concerned and I talked to my OB about it. I’m taking low-dose prozac and doing psychotherapy. I had PPD with my last baby and I want to be on the ball with this one. I’d love to have family support, but I live 2000 miles from family and my mom is too sick to travel and everyone else is broke. Life isn’t always what you plan for nor is it ideal. And while many things can be helped with counseling, sometimes it really is a chemical imbalance that needs medicine. Plus what are you supposed to do while you wait for the therapy to help? It may take years for some people, meanwhile you just suffer? Depression runs in my family. Prozac has made a HUGE difference in my life. I’ve tried doing it without meds because that’s better for the baby, but sometimes it is needed and women should not be made to feel like they are horrible people for needing medicine. Ignorance is what gives depression such a bad stigma. Unfortunately, if you haven’t experienced it yourself, it’s hard to relate.. so my advice is to refrain from passing judgement because really, you can’t know what it’s like to be someone else.

  • Victoria L.

    Victoria L.

    February 25th, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    Well said, natalie. I feel really sorry for anyone that has to cope with depression on top of giving birth. The whole experience takes more of a toll on the body and mind that you bargain for. Depression alone is difficult enough! I can’t imagine handling that and a newborn all at once. Good luck with the new baby! :)

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