Mind Your Mind Blog – Mental Health During Pregnancy


Cobb Collaborative is pleased to present a two-part “Mental Health During Pregnancy” blog series from guest blogger, Megan Velarde, Maternal Child Health (MCH) RN. This is part one of two in this series. Click here for the second entry in this series.

Pregnancy can be a wonderful time of celebration, love, and excitement. However, there are extra hormones circulating through the body during pregnancy, creating undesirable feelings that can easily turn into serious mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. It is important to know that the possibility of these problems exists and what to do if you experience them in order to provide the safest environment for you and your baby.

Emotional Changes – When to Worry
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make excitement turn into worry, and you may worry about all kinds of scenarios surrounding your pregnancy and afterward. It is normal to feel anxious, vulnerable, and overwhelmed by the huge changes that pregnancy and birth will bring to your household. However, perinatal depression is a serious mental health issue, and there is a difference between those normal emotional changes and symptoms of true depression.

Some typical signs of depression during pregnancy can include:

  • Becoming teary and crying often
  • Trouble concentrating on tasks
  • Inability to feel happiness, even while doing things you would normally enjoy
  • Sleep issues
  • Appetite problems (over- or under-eating)
  • Anger outbursts
  • Suicidal thoughts

It is important to recognize these symptoms and tell your healthcare provider about them as soon as possible, as depression during pregnancy can affect your birth outcome and can turn into more severe postpartum depression after your baby is born. Your provider should have you do an assessment called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) at least once during your pregnancy. This scale screens for common signs of depression and can alert your provider to your symptoms so that you can have a discussion on how to go about treatment.

Anxiety during pregnancy is also a real issue that can go underdiagnosed. Some amount of
preoccupation and worry is normal during pregnancy. However, excessive worry can be a sign of an
anxiety disorder that may require treatment.

Some common signs of anxiety that may need attention include:

  • Restlessness
  • Constant worrying
  • Muscle tension and inability to relax
  • Difficulty falling asleep due to constant ruminating thoughts
  • Feelings of dread

Untreated anxiety during pregnancy can lead to risk of preterm labor and low birth weight, among other
complications. Many times, anxiety is not assessed for during pregnancy, so it is important to let your
healthcare provider and loved ones know if you have been experiencing any of these symptoms.

How are these disorders treated during pregnancy?
Depression and anxiety are effectively treated during pregnancy if the proper steps are taken. You will
want to report any sudden or concerning emotional changes to your provider as soon as possible so that
they can come up with a treatment plan that is right for you and your baby.

  • Speaking to a mental health professional – a therapist is a great, unbiased source to discuss your
    mental health concerns with. They can implement proven methods, such as Cognitive
    Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help you restructure your thoughts and gain control of your feelings
    throughout your pregnancy. CBT works by turning your negative thoughts into good ones and
    relies on different breathing techniques that help to re-center the mind.
  • Certain medications that are safe during pregnancy – Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
    (SSRIs) such as Lexapro are commonly prescribed during pregnancy if the signs and symptoms of
    anxiety or depression warrant treatment with medications. These are often recommended to be
    used alongside therapy to provide the best treatment outcome.

Click here for part two of this series.

If you are in suicidal crisis, please call or text 988 or visit the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

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