Depression during pregnancy: The need for proper diagnosis

Depression during pregnancy: The need for proper diagnosis

There has been a tremendous awakening regarding postpartum depression in the last few years. Women are routinely screened for it and advised to seek help for depressive disorders after parturition. However, not much has been written about the prevalence of depression during pregnancy. Antenatal depression, or depression during pregnancy, is common in pregnant women. However, most women are not even aware about this disorder and even if they feel that something is wrong, rarely reach out for help.

Since time immemorial, pregnancy is associated with lots of positivity and hope. Family members, obstetricians/gynecologists and even psychiatrists are often reluctant to acknowledge depressive disorder in pregnant women and medication is generally not prescribed to the expectant mothers. However, there has been a significant upsurge in the number of pregnant women committing suicide the world over.  There is a compelling need to address the issue and provide appropriate care to such women. The depression disorder centers should have a dedicated wing for addressing this demographic.

A missed diagnosis of depression during pregnancy or wrongly diagnosing depression, both conditions can be exceedingly detrimental to the mother as well as the fetus. A missed diagnosis can lead to problems such as the mother developing suicidal tendencies or even attempting suicide resulting in death. Likewise, misinterpreting symptoms or confusing them with those of depression can also put the mother and the child at risk, due to the complications and side-effects that may accompany anti-depressant medications.

Steps for addressing antenatal depression

There are various ways that society and community as a whole can address this disorder. Some of them can be:

  • The depression treatment centers must have a dedicated team of gynecologists and other trained healthcare professionals who can differentiate between psychological symptoms of pregnancy and clinical depression.
  • The centers must have appropriate psychosocial tools and screen all pregnant women for depression.
  • In addition, the depression disorder centers must take additional measures to educate pregnant women and teaching them exercise programs to battle depression.

Effects of antenatal depression

An undiagnosed or an untreated case of antenatal depression is susceptible to multiple risks, such as:

  • Infants born to women with untreated depression are at a higher risk of developing prematurity.
  • The development of the child (in his/her younger years) might also be affected negatively, manifesting as complex impulsive outbursts, dysfunctional social interactions, and cognitive, behavioral and emotional challenges.
  • The mother is also at the risk of being exposed to the adverse outcomes of untreated maternal depression. Notably, pregnant women with depression are at a relatively higher risk of developing postpartum depression and suicidal tendencies.
  • Undiagnosed/untreated maternal depression has been linked to greater number of hospital visits and preeclampsia.

In addition, depressed pregnant women are more likely to engage in high-risk health behavior like smoking, substance and alcohol abuse, and poor nutrition or erratic sleep patterns. Depressed pregnant women routinely show maladaptive social functioning, emotional withdrawal and extreme doubts regarding their parental abilities.

Even though these women worry excessively about their pregnancy, they are highly irregular in their obstetric visits and rarely comply with the prenatal advice. They show poor compliance when it comes to supplementation with multivitamins, folic acid and other vital nutrients thereby, paving the way for a poor pregnancy outcome.

Breaking silence on antenatal depression

If you know a pregnant female at home or at work and you observe that something is not right with her, maybe it’s about time you paid more attention!

You can contact the Texas Depression Treatment Help to know about the depression disorder centers in Texas which provides support for those dealing with depression, anxiety and related mental health disorders. Our representatives can be reached anytime at the 24/7 helpline number 866-827-0282 to know more about depression treatment in Texas. Your one step could help someone begin their journey to recovery.