Dealing with Depression While Pregnant

Updated on January 30, 2008
A.P. asks from Loveland, CO
23 answers

I am just hoping that someone out there can give me some good tips on dealing with depression while pregnant. I am currently 22 weeks pregnant with my second child and have suffered with depression since I was a teen. I was taking celexa until we decided to try to have another baby, so right before I got pregnant I tapered off my pills and am not taking them now. Lately, I have been feeling more and more depressed and am having an extra hard time coping with everyday life. I work part-time and attend online school full-time. My daughter does not go to day care or preschool yet (she is 4) but will after the baby is born. I feel bad because I get upset and yell and cry and feel like if only I took my pill I would feel better but don't want to take it for the baby's sake. Any tips on coping without meds would be appreciated.

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So What Happened?

Well, first off, I just want to thank everyone for responding to my request. It felt really good to know that I am not alone with this, which makes it easier to talk about. I have a prenatal visit next week and I am going to talk to my doc about taking a low dose of my medication again. After hearing from so many of you that said it helped you so much and you also had healthy babies I feel like it might be the best for me too. I also realize that I need to take more breaks and get outside even of it's only for a few minutes. Thanks so much for your support, I only hope that I may be able to help someone out here as you have me. I will keep you all posted on what happens.
***Update***
Thank you all so much for your advice. I just came from my prenatal visit and was a relieved when my doctor said that no question, I should get back on my meds. While I was very worried about doing so at first, I feel reassured by the stories I have heard from some of you moms. I will be seeing my therapist next week to get a script and it will be good to talk about it too. My OB also prescribed me a new prenatal vitamin that has the omega 3 fish oils in it, so hopefully that will help too. I feel so much better now knowing that I am getting myself help and not trying to deal with it all on my own. I am just a little upset, though because the scale is not being good to me and I gained over 10 pounds in the last month, but hey, I am gonna work on my mental health and hopefully the rest will follow.

More Answers

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M.T.

answers from Boston on

Did you taper off with the MD's help and advice? Does your OB have any idea? It's really time for them to know if they don;t all ready.
I had depression issues w/ my last PG. from wk 20 to 30 I just fought them alone...I broke down one day and old the OB, he was so helpful.
Sent me to a Pschy doc who specialized in treating PG's and did prescribe me something. i was not thrilled with taking meds and being PG..but the alternative was far less healthy for me, my children and the baby.
Talk to your Doc

1 mom found this helpful
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F.S.

answers from Springfield on

Hi A.,
I really feel for you. I have suffered on and off with depression and anxiety for years. Medications did not make me feel better. When I became pregnant, I decided to go to a naturopath/homeopath to see if there might be some alternative remedies that could help. It was really helpful. If you do decide to try this route, I would strongly recommend seeing a specialist who knows and understands the effects of alternative meds/herbs during pregnancy. Cranio-sacral work and massage with an amazing, tuned in body worker was also extremely helpful.

For me, exercise is key in dealing with my depression (this was true when I was pregnant and is true in my non-pregnant state as well). Getting out of my mind and into my body is so healing and helps to regulate my energies.

More than anything, I think the most important thing is for you to feel good. Judging yourself will not make things better. If you need the meds to get regulated so you can take better care of yourself and your children, take them without guilt.

Taking care of ourselves is one of the best gifts we can give our families. Your happiness is important. I wish you all the best in the remaining months of your pregnancy and beyond.

-F.

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M.T.

answers from Boston on

Hi there, I sympathize with your predicament. HAve you ever tried acupuncture?
If you have questions or need to find someone in your area let me know.

M.

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N.D.

answers from Boston on

Please check out Tahitian Noni Juice at www.tni.com/1049768 and www.noniforhealth.com. It will change your life forever! It can also be found in the Physician's Desk Reference book 2007 and it is the only dietary supplement in it that has no adverse side effects. It will change your life forever!

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C.B.

answers from Hartford on

Talk to your OB-GYN immediately!!!!

Depression needs to be treated so that you are most effectively able to parent your two year old and care for yourself while you are pregnant. There are medications that are reasonably safe to take while pregnant. No medication is completely safe, but then they aren't when you are not pregnant either.

Also, evaluate your support systems and make sure you have the support you need, both now and for when the new baby comes. It doesn't get any easier with two.

If you decide not to take medication while pregnant, at least find a therapist or friend that can act as a kind of counselor for you , and make sure you have someone who will drag to the doctor if they think you start to suffer from post-partum depression on top of the pre-existing depression.

Depression is treatable and will improve your quality of life as well as that of those around you.

C.
(an NP in CT)

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S.H.

answers from Boston on

Hi A.,
I am a mother of two daughters, one of whom has suffered from depression since her teens as well. I have also had post-partum depression.

I don't have any answers but would suggest that you talk to your doctor and let her know that this is a real concern. I would think that there is something that you could take. If your doc can't help then find a psychiatrist who can. Your happiness and your child's are too important.

My heart goes out to you and let me know if you find an answer!
All the best,
S. H.

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B.H.

answers from Boston on

Hi A.
I guess I don't know what to tell you first. Your situation sounds alot like my self. I had a post partum depression(PPD) with my first child and tried for number two. I was also taking celexa for my PPD and stopped for my second pregnancy. I was only 8 wks pregnant when my therapist and I decided I wouyld continue with lowest dose of Celexa that I could to make me feel good again. I had a very hard time making my mind up because I didn't want the medication to hurt my baby. I chose to take a small dose which was 10 mg and that was all I needed to get myself back on track. My pregnancy was great, I felt great and I had a beautiful birthing experience and my daughter was uneffected my the medication. I also did not have PPD this time which I was very scared about. If you need more info or want to talk email. Good luck B.

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H.W.

answers from Providence on

A.,
I suffered from depression during the pregnancy of my daughter. There were some factors to the depression, like the morning sickness that just didn't seem to have an end and my daughter's father cheating on me. I found that as long as I didn't dwell (or let myself dwell) on the negatives, I was able to make it through the pregnancy. Some days were certainly easier than others, but on the roughest days I would force myself to have a good day.

Finding other outlets, ones that are positive, are a HUGE help. Some of those positive outlets could be cleaning around the home (when you're feeling stressed or anger), window shopping at the mall (always a favorite), and even just kicking back relaxing with a good book (or magazine).

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J.L.

answers from Boston on

My understanding is that Prozac is "safe" to take during pregnancy. I, too, have suffered with depression for a very long time, especially since my sister died (now 7 years ago).
Other than meds, I find it most helpful to keep busy. This isn't busy at home, but busy outside of the home. Surrounding myself with others, making commitments to others and being held accountable outside of the home make depression easier for me. Its too easy for me to make excuses and procrastinate if I'm the only one to be accountable to.
Play groups with your daughter, perhaps group music lessons or something in the area -- anything to keep you on a routine.

Hope this helps -- good luck!

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E.G.

answers from Boston on

A.,
I took Celexa during my pregnancy and continue now while breastfeeding. The risks are very low for any problems--why don't you speak to your pediatrician about going back on the medication. I think it is as harmful to parent depressed as any of the very rare and minor side effects of the medication.

Good luck!

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P.R.

answers from Boston on

A.,

I would urge you to talk with a psychiatrist who deals with depression and pregnancy--it is so important to be treated so that you can function well for yourself and both of your children. Women often continue their antidepressants during pregnancy. Mass. General has a group of psychiatrists who specialize in this area.

P.

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K.S.

answers from Boston on

Hi,
Just wanted to write to let you know that there are a ton of options out there for dealing with depression naturally. I think a lot of people tend to get "down" at this time of year especially...I know I do. Look into increasing your vitamin intake, most people don't know that many of the recommended daily intakes are now considered too low. One that is very important for us in the North is Vitamin D because sun exposure is not adequate to fill our needs. There are also some great herbs that are safe for pregnancy such as Chamomile. Try to get outside for exercise and fresh air everyday. Focus on everything that is good in your life as much as possible. Hope this helps!
Kat

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C.T.

answers from Boston on

A., I would try flower essences. They will not harm your baby or interact with any medications you might be taking. They work on the psychological and emotional and are used widely in Britain and Europe as part of every day medical care. They are becoming more common in the US now. Ask at your local health food store if they know of any practitioners that you could visit with. If not, they likely do have the remedies. I would suggest that you take Bach's Rescue Remedy or Healing Herbs Five Flower Formula. Take them "as needed", at least 4 times a day. You can take as many doses as you wish. A dosage of 4 drops is adequate. If you do not feel relief in a day or two, add the remedy "Gorse". Gorse is good for post partum depression so perhaps it will help you now. Another possibility is the remedy "Mustard". Hope this helps. Be gentle with yourself!

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J.A.

answers from Boston on

A.

If you are not currently in therapy please start. Chronic depression is nothing to be ashamed of it is a physiological disorder like any other disease. Current treatments are very effective and many can be used during pregnancy. If you have suffered from depression before pregnancy naturally it would get worse during pregnancy this is a very life altering process. I think this would be one of the worst times to go off medication. Naturally, you want to be sure you are using a medication with the least potential side effects so see a pyschiatrist. Many people with chronic serious illnesses which require medications have babies and some have to stay on their medications for life threatening reasons. We must weigh risk versus benefit. Your four year old does not need a seriously depressed mom and even if you started right back on your meds after you give birth it would take weeks for them to be effective, robbing you of the joy of experiencing your newborn's first weeks and setting yourself up for a serious postpartum depression. We all have tumultuous emotions when we are pregnant. How could I ever love another child like my first? My poor first baby she'll be pushed out of the limelight! etc. Believe me these are more our issues than our children. They do just fine. For an individual with depression your perspective can be skewed even more, I would recommend talk therepy to sort through these issues.

Best wishes
J. L.

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E.N.

answers from Boston on

A.,
I took clelexa all through my baby's gestation. I took only 10 miligrams but it totally kept me on track (especially now that you have been off it). Celexa is in a category of drug that they actually have the most information about (they've been around a long timer and there is no evidence to suggest that there are any adverse effects on a developing fetus and lots of studies). I would go back to your doctor and talk to her/him about going back on - there is no need for you to suffer like this. its probably better for everyone that you not get depressed. Its a lot harder to come out of a chemical depression ocne you're in one and as hormones course through your body during and especially AFTER pregnancy.

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K.V.

answers from Boston on

During the winter months, it is necessary to go outside each day for a walk or just playtime in the snow! Your Vitamin D content from the sun is vital to mental health. Consider taking a A & D supplement if you are not able to get out into the sun each day. This will not hurt the baby in any way.
Taking your daughter out to play will help her as well. Invite a friend or family member over once or twice a week to chat about life. Whether you are into reading the bible or not, reading Psalms 139 over and over again is an encouragement. If you don't have a Bible, google it!!
Another suggestion is to watch some old comedy movies to make you laugh. Laughter is good medicine! You can find some on line here: http://www.archive.org

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K.L.

answers from Boston on

Hi A.,
I hope I can help, at least a little bit. I recently came off of Effexor XR for anxiety/depression after several years. I have found that some herbal remedies have helped me some. I try to drink tea with valerian root in it every day. Chamomile is also helpful. With pregnancy, I would be careful in taking too many herbs - but if you go into a health food store there is usually someone knowledgable to help you. I know that in Whole Foods stores, there is always someone in the supplement dept who is very knowledgable. I took a natural supplement called Bliss for several months coming off of my medication.
I have always had issues with anxiety - and depression has been an issue for the last few years. I found that eating a better diet (whole, natural foods - as few processed foods as possible) made a tremendous difference for me.
I have also recently downloaded some guided meditations off of itunes. It sounded corny at first but I can't believe how much it helps me relax and collect myself. There are so many choices with these - 2 minutes up to 1-2 hours each. Try it.....it might help.
I hope something here is of use to you - I know how tough it can be home with small children. We need all of the help we can get :-)
Take care of yourself....
K.

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M.S.

answers from Portland on

Hi A.,
I also suffer from depression. I just had my third child and could not go with out medication this pregnacy. I went on Zoloft 3 months into my pregnancy and I am still on it while breast feeding. It has helped me so much. Check with your doctor about it. It makes a world of difference.
Take care and congratulations on your pregnancy!
M.

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C.R.

answers from Boston on

find a therapist who specializes in pregnancy and post-pardum issues. I worked with Lisa Norris in Portsmouth for a few years and it saved it my life.

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A.N.

answers from Boston on

There's a great workbook called Parenting Well When You're Depressed that might be helpful. I would also suggest counseling if you're not doing it right now. I'm pretty sure that counseling (therapy) is considered to be right up there with medications for effectiveness in dealing with depression. I don't know what area you are in but I know a couple of good names in Brookline, Medfield, Dedham and Newton. Try Psychology Today (they have a therapist finder). There is a woman in Medfield named Denise Fitzpatrick that is really good. Good luck and my thoughts are with you.

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R.H.

answers from Boston on

For the sake of you & your daughter, you need to get back on your medication immediately. Give your doctor a call & discuss with him or her the feelings you are having. I can say with 99% certainly that they will agree that you are better off on your medication than without them. I'm a 37-year old who recently gave birth to my 1st child & stayed on a "cocktail" of meds throughout my pregnancy. As disappointed as I am that I'm unable to nurse my baby, I realize I made the best decision for everyone involved.

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D.M.

answers from Boston on

I have dealt with depression since I was a teenager, too. During my first pregnancy I went to the doctor and she suggested that I go on meds (I think I was about 5 or 6 months along). I was very hesitant but I did it. I'm sorry I can't remember the name of the med, but it made life bearable for the rest of my pregnancy. Since then, I've been on meds continually (I started meds in 1999). My psychiatrist had encouraged me to stay on my current meds when I was trying to get pregnant again, and during my second pregnancy in 2005 I had no problems whatsoever. I've also heard that anti-depressants during pregnancy can actually increase the development of the fetus' brain. I don't know how true that is, but it is cool to think about! Right now I'm on a combination of Wellbrutin and Prozac, and it seems to do a good job keeping me steady. If I were you, I'd consider taking anti-depressants because your depression and stress can negatively effect the baby, too. Maybe look into some of the "older" drugs, like Prozac - more studies have been done on those so sometimes doctors feel more comfortable with prescribing them. Also, I remember speaking with my psychiatrist about anti-depressants during pregnancy, and they have reference guides that rate drugs and their risk to the baby - like A means little to no risk, B means slight to medium risk and take if it is necessary for the mother, and C means no way! Also, my psychiatrist has started me on Vitamin D3, 2000IU's a day as well as 800mg of Folic Acid a day. Being so far up north, our bodies stop producing Vitamin D from the sunlight in September and many of us can be affected by the lack of Vitamin D.
I know that there is a lot to think about, and the health of your baby is high priority, but so is your health - both mental and physical. Your baby will not benefit as much from a severely depressed, stressed and unmotivated mother as it would from a more stable, somewhat happy mom. Also, I think that it helps with hormone changes after birth and the drugs can counter the effects of post partum depression. I wish you luck and I hope that you are able to make a decision that is good for both you and your baby.:)

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R.F.

answers from Burlington on

I just went to a conference about depression, it was focusing more on the postpartum period and breastfeeding, but the speaker said that the studies they've done work while pregnant as well. The speakers name was Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, Ph.D., IBCLC. She has two webpages about her research. one is www.GraniteScientific.com, because she's from NH the granite state. the other is www.breastfeedingMadeSimple.com she talks about exercise and Omega 3's as well as DHA and EPA to decrease depression. There are some prenatal vitamins that have Omega 3 DHA and EPA added to them and I believe the name of them is on the website. I have a friend at work who is taking them and she said she can feel the difference in her mood and in her body.

Good luck!

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