mental health during pregnancy

Mental Health and Pregnancy: How to Deal With Unhealthy Emotions

With pregnancy comes a range of emotions. Pregnancy changes a woman’s hormones and body, along with her mood and feelings. For the sake of mental wellness and the overall health of the mother and baby, there are key points about pregnancy and mental health that can be helpful to understand.

Mental Health and Pregnancy

Pregnancy can be an emotional time—with a wide range of feelings.

  • While pregnancy and new parenthood are often portrayed as a time of joy and bliss, occasional feelings of being overwhelmed, worried, or sad are common when you’re expecting. These feelings may pass, and you are not alone in feeling them.
  • You are also not alone if negative feelings are more persistent and seem to be more than just the “baby blues.” Studies show that one in five women experience mental health disorders during pregnancy.
  • The good news is that effective, safe treatments and support are available.
  • Talking to a healthcare provider right away about how you’re feeling is important so that you and your baby can get the care you need and deserve.

Mental health disorders and concerns during pregnancy are relatively common.

  • Studies show that mood and anxiety disorders affect up to 20% of women during pregnancy and after they give birth.
  • Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health issues that women face. However, pregnant women can also experience other mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and eating disorders.
  • Compassionate, effective treatment and support are available. Talking to a healthcare provider right away is a great place to start.
  • There are effective, safe treatments for mental health disorders during pregnancy.
  • Talk therapy, medication, or a combination are common and effective treatments for people experiencing mental health disorders.
  • Your healthcare providers can help you with steps to take to manage your mental health.
  • Talking with a licensed mental health professional can be a productive, positive way to learn how to address stress and depression and ease anxiety or treat other mental health disorders.

Seek support for mental health during pregnancy: Communication is crucial.

  • During pregnancy, know that you can feel comfortable talking to healthcare providers about how you’re feeling both mentally and physically. Together, you can address concerns.
  • While some people may find it uncomfortable to talk about mental health, rest assured that healthcare professionals can offer you non-judgmental help and are aware that many patients experience mental health concerns.
  • For your mental wellness, licensed mental health professionals offer excellent, caring support and effective treatment.

Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety During Pregnancy

Sometimes symptoms of depression and anxiety—the most common mental disorders during pregnancy—can go unrecognized because they mimic typical effects of pregnancy, such as fatigue, low energy, and irregular sleep patterns.

As always, please speak to your healthcare team if you are concerned about anything during your pregnancy, including your emotional well-being.

Common signs of depression and anxiety during pregnancy can include feeling:

  • Sad
  • Empty
  • Foggy
  • Guilty
  • Fearful
  • Excessively worried about what might happen

Risk Factors for Mental Health Disorders During Pregnancy

Any woman can develop a mental health disorder during pregnancy.

  • Women who have experienced a mental health disorder before may be more vulnerable during pregnancy.
  • Talking to your healthcare providers about your full health history, including mental health concerns and current and past mental health experiences, can help you get the best care for you and your baby.

Taking Care of Your Mental Health during Pregnancy

During and beyond the pregnancy, you can boost and care for your emotional well-being.

  • Good nutrition, positive connections with others, and getting regular and enough sleep are protective factors for emotional health not only during pregnancy but also after giving birth.
  • Asking for help when you need it is an important proactive step.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider right away for support for mental health.
  • The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can be on the path to feeling better.
  • Remember that effective, compassionate treatment that is good for both the mother and baby is available and can be personalized to help you feel better.

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