Anxiety and Depression During Pregnancy

The reality is that your pregnancy is a HUGE change- being a parent is a BIG deal and there are lot of things to think about.  Some of them exciting and other more nerve-wracking.  Questions that come up during a pregnancy can be frustrating, especially if you can’t get consistent answers from all of your research.  So the anxiety piece is quite common amongst women.  There are also many hormone changes that Many times partners either minimize the concern thinking that this might take your mind off it or they try to “fix” the problem with advice- rarely do either of those things seem to be helpful and ends up with frustration from both ends.

First of all, I want to say that it is absolutely OK to be anxious about your pregnancy.  There are new and different things that are happening every day.  It’s hard to sometimes know what is normal and who is the best resource when questions arise.

Secondly, when you do have questions and you can’t seem to shake a concern, CALL YOUR DOCTOR.  I would much rather my patients call me on the phone, than have them worry for 2 weeks until their next visit.

Third, there are times when anxiety can become more than just pregnancy questions and jitters.  There are patients who do indeed struggle with some type of anxiety disorder, depression or other mental illness during their pregnancy.  I am most concerned about this possibility if the mood symptoms are starting to affect school, work, relationships, or enjoying regular hobby.  At that point, someone is not just worried about a pregnancy related concern, but their mood is getting in the way of other aspects of their life.  Because there are significant hormone changes that occur during and after a pregnancy, there are some women who are more susceptible to mental illness. In some situations, the growth of the baby can be at risk if the mood symptoms become severe enough.

These symptoms are addressed in many ways by physicians.  Most of the time, we just take extra time to make sure that your questions are addressed.  I also make a point of mentioning to your partner to avoid the pitfalls of providing too much advice or trying to “solve” something.  There are times when counseling and medication are good ideas as well.  Often times symptoms are best addressed with counseling alone, but medication can be a good option if there are concerns that this will affect the well-being of the pregnancy.

Fortunately, medication use is rarely required.  But in the case that it becomes a good idea, there are certain options that are very well studied and quite safe!  Just remember, if you feel like your anxiety or moods are getting in the way of your day to day routine (work, relationships, school, or play)- make sure you tell your doctor right away.