Depression During Pregnancy, Risks, Signs & Treatment

Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects many pregnant women. It is also known as antenatal or prenatal depression. The causes, symptoms, and solutions to maternal depression are discussed here. Depression During Pregnancy.

Depression During Pregnancy

Depression during pregnancy, also known as antenatal or prenatal depression, is a serious mental health condition that affects many pregnant individuals. This article explores the risks, signs, and treatment options for depression during pregnancy.

How often do women get pregnancy depression?

There are happy and stressful moments during pregnancy. According to studies, about 7% of pregnant women suffer from depression. In low and middle-income countries, rates could be substantially higher.

Most people have experienced depression, a mood disorder characterized by prolonged sadness and lack of interest. Women are twice as likely to experience depression as men are, and the peak age of onset is during the reproductive years.

Signs of Depression in Pregnancy

During pregnancy, it’s not unusual for women to feel depressed. It is important to notice these signs immediately and take action to ensure the pregnant woman and her baby are healthy. Depression during pregnancy can show up in several ways, such as constant feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and not being worth anything. Women may lose interest in things they used to enjoy, and their eating and sleeping habits may change. Tiredness, trouble focusing, and feelings of guilt or not being good enough are also common. There may be thoughts of hurting yourself or killing yourself.

Pregnant women with these symptoms need professional help and support immediately. Mental health professionals can help pregnant women get the right treatment, like therapy or medication, based on their specific needs so that the pregnancy is healthy and the mother and child have the best possible outcomes. When someone is depressed during pregnancy, getting help early and comprehensively can make a big difference in their health.

Pregnancy and Depression Fact Sheet

Depression and Pregnancy Overview:

  • Depression during pregnancy, also called antenatal or prenatal depression, is when a pregnant person shows signs of depression.
  • It is a serious mental health problem that can affect the health of both the mother-to-be and the baby.
  • To deal with depression during pregnancy and make sure the pregnancy goes well, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.


  • Depression during pregnancy can cause feelings of sadness or emptiness that don’t go away, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, fatigue, trouble concentrating, anger, anxiety, and thoughts of hurting yourself or killing yourself.
  • Some people might have symptoms that are similar to those of major depressive disorder, while others might have symptoms that are unique to pregnancy.


  • There are a lot of women who get depressed while they are pregnant. Estimates say 10% and 20% of pregnant women have depressive symptoms.
  • It can happen to women with or without a history of depression, and it may happen more often to women who have had problems with their pregnancies in the past, like a miscarriage or giving birth early.

The risks and effects:

  • Depression that isn’t treated during pregnancy can be bad for both the mother and the baby.
  • Risks for the mother include not taking care of herself, having trouble bonding with the baby, using drugs more, and having a higher chance of having postpartum depression.
  • Risks to the fetus and newborn include being born early, having a low birth weight, having a delay in development, and having emotional or behavioral problems as a child.

Help and treatment:

  • To deal with depression during pregnancy, getting help from a professional is essential. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), support groups, and, in some cases, antidepressant medication may be used to treat depression.
  • Healthcare workers will consider the risks and benefits of a treatment to ensure that both the mother and the baby are healthy.
  • Depression during pregnancy can also be helped by getting support from friends and family, talking about how you feel, living a healthy lifestyle, and taking care of yourself.

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Pregnancy Depression Statistics

Depression during pregnancy is a common problem affecting 10% and 20% of pregnant women. It can have big effects on the health of both the mother and the baby. Depression that isn’t treated during pregnancy makes it more likely that the woman will have postpartum depression and can cause bad things like the baby being born early or having delays in development.

Depression during pregnancy is more likely if the woman has had mental health problems if the pregnancy has gone wrong, or if she doesn’t have a lot of social support. Psychotherapy, support groups, and, in some cases, medication are all ways to treat depression. People who are depressed during pregnancy need strong support from their doctors and loved ones to get the care and support they need.

 1 in 7

 1 in 7 pregnant women experiences depression.

Source: CDC

1st Trimester

The highest risk of depression.

Source: CDC


Depression during pregnancy makes a person more likely to have depression after giving birth. About 30% of people with depression during pregnancy also had depression after giving birth.

Source: CDC

How Does Depression Affect Pregnancy?

Depression can affect a pregnant woman’s health and the baby’s development differently. Here are some ways that depression can affect pregnancy:

  • The health of the mother: Depression during pregnancy makes it more likely that physical health problems like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes will start or worsen. It can also make people not take care of themselves well, like not eating right, not getting enough exercise, or having trouble sleeping.
  • Prenatal care: Pregnant women with depression may be less likely to get the right prenatal care, which can cause them to miss appointments, put off screenings, and not keep an eye on their own and their baby’s health as well as they should. This can put both the mother and the baby in danger.
  • Emotional health: Depression can have a big effect on a pregnant woman’s emotions, making her feel sad, hopeless, and irritable. It may also make them less motivated and interested in things like getting ready for the baby to come.
  • Attachment and bonding: During pregnancy, depression can make it hard for the mother and child to form a strong emotional bond. This could make it harder for the mother to show the baby love and care right after birth, which is important for bonding and attachment.
  • Birth Outcomes: Studies show that if depression isn’t treated during pregnancy, it may increase the risk of having a baby early, giving birth to a baby with low birth weight, or having problems during delivery. These bad things during birth can affect the baby’s health and development in the long run.

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Are Antidepressants Safe to Take When You’re Pregnant?

Whether or not antidepressants are safe during pregnancy is a personal and nuanced decision that requires professional guidance. The risks of taking certain antidepressants must be weighed against the benefits of helping mothers overcome their depression.

More research has shown that antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are safe during pregnancy. When using them, the risk of having a child with a defect or experiencing other negative side effects is low. While the overall risk of having a child with defects or complications is low, there is still a possibility that it could happen.

Pregnant women who are depressed should talk to their doctor openly and honestly about the potential risks and benefits of taking antidepressants during their pregnancy. The potential effects of untreated depression on the mother and child, as well as the severity of the depression, may play a role in the decision.

Therapy, support groups, lifestyle changes, and careful symptom monitoring are some non-pharmacological options that may be explored. Always keep in mind that your situation is unique, and make your decision about taking antidepressants during pregnancy after carefully weighing the risks and benefits.

The best outcome for mom and baby will be determined by the healthcare provider’s knowledge of the individual’s medical history and the provider’s expertise in the matter.

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Depression in Pregnancy Treatment

Depression during pregnancy needs to be treated in a way that considers both the mother’s and the baby’s well-being. It is essential to consider each treatment option’s risks and benefits. Most of the time, non-drug treatments like psychotherapy and counseling are suggested as the first step in treating mild to moderate depression. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) have been shown to help people with depression. Under the close supervision of a medical professional, antidepressants may be used when depression is severe or when non-drug treatments are not enough.

The right medication is chosen based on how safe it is during pregnancy and what the person needs. The pregnant person and their healthcare provider need to work together to make decisions to come up with an informed, personalized treatment plan that balances the possible benefits and risks. Monitoring and follow-up are important during pregnancy to see how the treatment works and make any necessary changes. Setting up a strong support system with partners, family members, and support groups can also help with getting emotional support and figuring out how to deal with things.

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  1. Can pregnancy cause depression?

    Pregnancy itself can put a woman at risk for depression. Perinatal depression, also known as pregnancy depression, can strike at any time during or after a pregnancy. Depression is a mood disorder characterized by an inability to experience happiness or pleasure in daily life.

    Hormonal shifts, physical discomfort, emotional stress, shifts in body image, sleep disturbances, and the anticipation of parenting responsibilities all contribute to depression during pregnancy. Risk factors include not having a strong social network, a personal or family history of mental illness, and a history of depression.

Coping with Depression Informative Video

Coping with depression can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can use to help manage your symptoms. Exercising, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep can help improve your mood. Talking to a therapist can also be beneficial as they can provide additional resources and help you process your thoughts and feelings. Lastly, knowing what triggers your depressive episodes can help you better prepare for them.

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Search We Level Up WA Mental Health Depression During Pregnancy, Risks, Signs & Treatment. Topics & Resources
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  3. Grigoriadias S. Mild to moderate antenatal unipolar depression: Treatment. Accessed Aug. 5, 2019.
  4. Grigoriadias S. Unipolar major depression during pregnancy: Epidemiology, clinical features, assessment, and diagnosis. Accessed Aug. 5, 2019.
  5. Biaggi A, et al. Identifying the women at risk of antenatal anxiety and depression: A systematic review. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2016;191:62.
  6. US Department of Health and Human Services – depression treatment near me
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  8. NIMH – Learn more: postpartum depression treatment
  9. OASH – Learn more: postpartum depression treatment
  10. CDC – postpartum depression
  11. WHO – Learn more: postpartum depression treatment
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  13. Women’s Depression Treatment Center –