It's normal to feel a wide range of emotions during pregnancy. It's a special time of transition, and women are often thinking about the future and the coming of the new baby or babies. So it's normal to feel sad and anxious or happy, and it's normal for your moods to change quickly as well.
But clinical depression and anxiety are a different level. We define depression as having a persistent depressed mood, difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than normal, changes in appetite, and difficulty completing normal activities. And anxiety is being in a state of excessive uneasiness, sometimes with apprehension and sometimes with panic attacks. If these symptoms are affecting you every day for more than two weeks, it's important to discuss that with your doctor.
Patients often ask, "Why is this happening?" And we don't always know why. We do know that there are biochemical changes in the brain, but a personal or family history of depression or anxiety, increased stress, decreased support, or an unplanned pregnancy can all increase your risk of depression. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may refer you to a therapist or psychiatrist, or prescribe medications.
I encourage all women to take care of themselves. It's an intense time, so walk with your partner, talk to your friends, meditate, read a relaxing book, or journal about some of the things that you're thinking about. All of those things can make a big difference.
There are also great resources available, including community discussion groups, hospital support groups, and local resources.
Video production by Paige Bierma.