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Pregnancy Blues and Post Natal Depression

Dr. Ranjit Chakraborti

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Depression that occurs during the course of pregnancy is known as prenatal depression. There are estimates that as many as 70 of women experience symptoms of depression during pregnancy, making it a wide spread concern.

According to senior gynaecologist, Dr. Ranjit Chakraborti, While hormones are often blamed for many of the mood swings and other emotional and psychological happenings in pregnancy, they are only one part of the picture when it comes to pregnancy and depression. Sometimes the stress of pregnancy brings on depressive symptoms, even when the pregnancy was planned. These feeling might intensify if the pregnancy is complicated or unplanned or if life itself is stressful. Adding further, he said that the real problem with depression in pregnancy is that it can have a negative impact on good prenatal care, particularly in the areas of nutrition, sleep habits, exercise and following care instructions from the doctor. Substance abuse, including alcohol and cigarette smoking, also tends to be higher in pregnant women who report depression. Signs of Depression " Problems in concentrating " Problems with sleeping " Fatigue " Changes in eating habits " Feeling anxious " Irritability " Feeling blue Dr. Chakraborti shares, Depression is associated with high numbers of somatic symptoms, some of which can be debilitating. Included are headache, nausea, stomach pain, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal problems, palpitations, dizziness and sexual dysfunction. In the absence of adequate treatment the depression can accelerate. Episodes may become more frequent and severe, resulting in substantial maternal and infant morbidity. Functional impairment, inadequate prenatal care, pre-eclampsia, substance abuse, increased risk of postnatal depression and ultimately poor pregnancy outcomes have all been associated with depression during the obstetric period. Consequently, a risk exists for potentially devastating consequences that impact upon both mother and baby. The disability and suffering associated with depression are not limited to the patient; rather, entire families are affected. Depression-related functional impairment in the mother is likely to affect her children negatively.

Dr. Chakraborti informs, Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) and low neonatal birth weight.97 IUGR is a major cause of perinatal mortality and morbidity, and an important cause of developmental impairment in later life. When depression is associated with weight loss, fetal growth may be negatively affected. Rather than weight, body mass index (BMI) is used to gauge a woman’s health status during pregnancy. It is defined as weight in kilograms divided by height in square metres. Low pre-pregnancy BMI and low weight gain during pregnancy have been correlated with increased depressive symptom scores. Signs of Prenatal Depression 1. Lack of concentration 2. Sleep disorders 3. Continuous fatigue 4. Sudden change in eating 5. Constant anxious feeling 6. Irritation and feeling blue Postnatal Depression Postnatal Depression is also known as postpartum depression or baby blues. Dr. Chakraborti explains, The first month after a delivery of a new born baby is a time of major changes for women. Female hormones and weight are rapidly readjusting. There may be new and stressful changes in relationships with other children, the father of the baby, parents and in-laws, colleagues at work, and friends. Of course, the new baby needs almost constant attention and feeding every two hours, resulting in feeding mothers sleep deprivation. All of these factors can contribute to post-natal depression and mood swings.

If the moodiness only lasts 2 -3 weeks and then goes away, it’s commonly called the “baby blues”. This natural reaction to stress is experienced by more than half of new mothers.

However, if the feelings of depression or anxiety continue more than three weeks, a more serious condition called post-partum depression may exist. For most women, symptoms are transient and relatively mild (ie, postpartum blues); however, 10-15% of women experience a more disabling and persistent form of mood disturbance (eg, postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis).

According to Dr. Chakraborti, You have a higher chance of post-natal depression if: " You have mood disorders prior to pregnancy, including depression with a prior pregnancy. " You have a close family member who has had depression or anxiety. " Anything particularly stressful happened to you during the pregnancy, including illness, death or illness of a loved one, a difficult or emergency delivery, premature delivery, or illness or child abnormailty.

" You are in your teens or over age 40. " The pregnancy in question is unwanted or unplanned. " Current substance abuse. There is no single test to diagnose post-natal depression. Sometimes depression following pregnancy can be related to other medical conditions. Hypothyroidism, for example, causes symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, and depression. Women with post-natal depression should have a blood test to screen for low thyroid hormones. This condition is easily treated with supplemental hormone. Another clue to post-natal depression can be weight gain or failure to lose weight after pregnancy, despite breast-feeding the baby.

The treatment for depression after birth often includes medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Once post-natal depression is diagnosed, the mother will need to be followed closely for at least six months.



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