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More women speaking out about depression while pregnant

By Braid Blanks, bblanks@ktxs.com
Published On: Nov 13 2012 08:42:30 PM CST

It's supposed to be a magical time: the miracle of life happening before your eyes… and in your body. But don't be fooled, pregnancy is no cake walk.

“Some people in the beginning of pregnancy have nausea and vomiting and severe fatigue. That's normal and just the chemicals of pregnancy. Some women feel like sleeping all the time or have insomnia-that's normal. Some have stress in their relationships, that's normal,” said Dr. Whitney Mascorro, OB/GYN at Hendrick Medical Center.

Those are just the normal symptoms that the majority of women deal with at some point during their 40 week stint of growing a tiny person. It can take a toll on even the strongest women, but some moms-to-be don't just get the pregnancy blues, they actually experience clinical depression.

"It's common to have to have emotional ability when you're pregnant and when you're postpartum. You feel heightened emotion, moodiness. But if you feel like 90 percent of your day, over the course of two weeks you are hopeless, worthless, sad, if you're ever suicidal, homicidal, or have psychosis: hallucinations, delusions, see things that aren't real, hear things that aren't real you could be depressed. If you have paranoia, just really cannot eat, you cannot get out of bed and you cannot go to sleep those are things we worry about being true depression,” said Dr. Mascorro.

So what does this mean for the baby? Dr. Mascorro says there are no in-depth studies about how depression affects a fetus at this time, but that from what medical professionals can tell, the baby is unharmed by it in-utero. However, the effects it can have on mom can put the baby in danger.

“A lot of times they have poor judgment. They don't make good decisions for their pregnancy, for their kids, or for their relationships. Because of that they might not seek good prenatal care and make good decisions for their pregnancy, such as skipping their visits, not doing their lab work, not doing their sonograms, not adhering to instructions from their doctor or even seeking substance abuse to take care of problems,” said Dr. Mascorro

So what's the solution? Depression is often treated with medication but pregnant women are very limited in what they can take. Instead, Dr. Mascorro suggests women search for help through different forms of therapy, especially counseling, which is where places like turning point counseling come in.

"Between ten to twenty percent of pregnant women are depressed. That's pretty high- that's a lot of women," said Janet Jergins, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Counselor, with Turning Point Counseling in Abilene.

"You're brain changes and your heart changes when you become a mother. Your body is taken hostage, you don't get to sleep, you don't get to go to the bathroom by yourself for years," said Jergins.

Jergins also said support at home is key to making it through the difficult time.

"This is a really important time in the marriage and relationship. It's a wonderful time for the partner to step up and pitch in and help with some of the hard things, do the vacuuming, tell their wife they're beautiful and be a part of the whole thing,” said Jergins.

She also wants women who think they can't afford treatment to know that might not be the case.

“I just want people to know there are resources. Most women who are having babies are on insurance and insurance will pay for this. Especially Medicaid- there's no co-pay no money out of pocket. If they're students there's also a homeless and pregnant resource through AISD,” said Jergins.

The bottom line is depression is not to be taken lightly anytime, especially when another life is on the line. Asking for help is the first and most important step.