By DM Driscoll
Science and Mythology of Depression and Pregnancy
When considering both depression and pregnancy, it is important to separate science from mythology. One pervasive parcel of mythology extant today is that women who have depression can negate it by getting pregnant. Popular myth dictates that the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy will somehow alter brain chemistry, lifting pregnant women out of depression. In the past, doctors even espoused this link between depression and pregnancy as true. Today, science has largely disproved this.
A number of tests conducted in Massachusetts about the link between depression and pregnancy concluded that pregnancy actually has no effect on clinical depression whatsoever: getting pregnant does not alter brain chemistry in any way that might alleviate depression – and even worse, getting pregnant often has the opposite effect: it can actually worsen depression.
What make the depression worse are the restrictions pregnancy imposes. This link between depression and pregnancy is clear. For instance, being pregnant often imposes limited mobility and limited eating choices. Additionally, being pregnant often restricts medicinal choices.
Many antidepressants have been flagged by the FDA – and, as such, are no longer available to pregnant women, as they have the potential to cause birth defects. This link between depression and pregnancy means that a woman could go through a serious bout of depression during pregnancy without any medicinal form of recourse.
Another potential problem that pregnancy brings is postpartum depression. Even for those who aren’t depressed, this can still be a problem, as approximately 10% of all pregnant women experience it. Postpartum depression doesn’t occur during the pregnancy, but after it, as the name suggests; and is usually triggered by hormonal changes that occur during and after birth. Most who suffer from it also have the same symptoms of those with clinical depression. Additionally, postpartum depression is generally treated in the same manner as standard forms of depression. Effective methods generally focus on behavioral restructuring, antidepressant medication, and counseling.
More information about depression and risks of anti-depressant drugs can be found at this authors website Understanding Depression
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