Dear Dr. Bill,
I'm currently 22 weeks pregnant and have been feeling very sad lately. Is this normal? Is there any medicine I can take or anything I can do to deal with my depression?
Depression during pregnancy isn’t unusual, especially if you have a history of depression or a family history of it. A woman’s hormones take a rollercoaster ride during pregnancy and after delivery. These hormonal changes are responsible for postpartum depression and the less severe “baby blues.”
Your feelings of sadness might also be caused by a situational depression. In other words, is there something going on in your life that may be contributing to feelings of sadness, anxiety, or loss?
How is your relationship with your husband? Has he been supportive and available to you during your pregnancy?
If you’re currently working, are you dealing with a lot of stress on the job? If you’re planning on leaving the workplace after your baby is born, are you feeling sad about quitting your job and losing close relationships with your co-workers?
I’d suggest that you make an appointment with your OBGYN and discuss your depression. He or she can discuss the various treatment options with you.
If your depression is severe, your doctor may consider prescribing an anti-depressant medication. Anti-depressants are generally quite safe, but there are risks to taking any type of medication during pregnancy.
Another option would be a referral to a psychologist who specializes in something called cognitive-behavioral therapy. That form of counseling has been shown to be very effective in treating depression.