Last updated March 2012. Planned review date: March 2014
Antenatal depression - depression in pregnancy
One in twelve women suffers from some of the symptoms of mild to moderate depression in pregnancy. Lack of sleep and pregnancy hormone changes can make feelings of unhappiness worse.
You may be experiencing depression if you have five or more of the following symptoms on an ongoing basis:
- inability to enjoy life
- lack of energy
- loss of interest in social activities
- feeling restless and agitated
- loss of appetite and weight (though some people find they put on weight)
- difficulty sleeping – waking early and being unable to get back to sleep (or sometimes sleeping too much)
- loss of interest in sex
- loss of self-confidence
- feelings of worthlessness
- feelings of guilt
- poor concentration
- thoughts of suicide.
For mild depression, treatments such as an exercise programme (specific to the postnatal period), self-help strategies or short-term counselling are recommended. If you have moderate or severe depression, your doctor or midwife should discuss treatment options with you. You may be offered counselling instead of, or as well as, suitable antidepressant medication. You’re more likely to be offered medication if you have had depression in the past, particularly if you have had a more severe form of the illness.
Click here to find out more about where to go for help for depression or anxiety.
Dennis CL, Allen K (2010) Interventions (other than pharmacological, psychosocial or psychological) for treating antenatal depression, Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group, The Cochrane Library, abstract
National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health commissioned by NICE (2010) Depression: The NICE guideline on the treatment and management of depression in adults. Updated edition, National Clinical Practice Guideline 90, London, British Psychological Society and Royal College of Psychiatrists
NICE (2007) CG45 Antenatal and Postnatal Mental Health, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
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