l am looking forward to this baby, why I am depressed and anxious? Pregnancy produces profound hormonal changes in your body, in addition to the stress of the change that is coming in your life. If you have had depression or other mental illnesses in the past, they are likely to come again during pregnancy and after birth when you begin to care for the baby. What kind of help do I need? If you have responded well to psychotherapy or another talk therapy in the past, by all means continue it. Most pregnant women with moderate to severe depression require medication, which your doctor is prepared to recommend for you. If you are thinking about suicide or depressed every day, you should certainly seek help from your doctor. It is very important to get treated when depression happens. Treatment protects the baby, and treatment protects you from more severe depression after birth, with worse consequences including harming your baby. I heard that medications are not safe for baby! Antidepressants are given to women who are depressed. Depression itself adverse impacts the baby, because your body’s reaction to depression releases cortisol. Cortisol is very harmful to fetal development and cortisol only gradually comes down when the mother gets treatment for her depression. Therefore, when people compare babies of mother who had depression (high cortisol) and took antidepressants to try to get over the depression (and lower their cortisol) to babies of mothers who did not have depression (low cortisol), the babies of the women who took antidepressants seem to do worse. However, when babies of women who were depressed but did not take antidepressants (high cortisol) with compared to those who took antidepressants (to lower their cortisol), the babies whose mothers took antidepressants did better. Your cortisol will only go down if your depression is successfully treated, which is why we suggest you get treatment right away, which generally requires medication. Some law firms have profited handsomely from class action suits against drug companies who make antidepressants. Their television advertising is very misleading and harmful to women who are depressed in pregnancy and their babies. Antidepressants do have effects on the developing baby but these effects are less than the effects of depression left untreated. Will diet, exercise, and supplements help? Yes, a good diet, low in fats and sugar and refined foods, high in grains, fish, and oils (the Mediterranean Diet) helps. So does activity and exercise. Prenatal vitamins and choline supplements will help your baby’s development as well, but they will work better when your depression is treated.
Read more: Sharon K. Hunter, Jordan H. Mendoza, Kimberly D’Anna, Gary O Zerbe, LizBeth McCarthy, Camille Hoffman, Robert Freedman,Randal G. Ross Antidepressants may mitigate the effects of prenatal maternal anxiety on infant auditory sensory gating American Journal of Psychiatry 2012 text