Pregnancy and its effects on mental health

Mental Health News

5–15% of pregnant women experience mental health problems. Primogenital women have an exceptionally high incidence of this (first-time mothers). Concerns can arise from the stress related to their new baby and the physical changes. They may experience significantly more anxiety during a subsequent pregnancy if they have a history of poor obstetric outcomes, such as recurrent miscarriages, stillbirths, intrauterine deaths, or neonatal deaths. They are under a lot of stress due to pregnancy-related medical complications like diabetes, hypertension, anemia, twin pregnancies, and pregnancy-associated complications.

By Aparna Patil, MD

Becoming pregnant is one of the most exciting life events, which can cause conflicting emotions. In addition to experiencing joy and excitement when giving birth to their child, pregnant women can also experience fear, anxiety, and even depression if they do not receive adequate physical and psychological support. One in five women experiences mental health issues during pregnancy or after giving birth.

The emotional roller coaster of pregnancy is one with joyful peaks and depressing valleys. The most significant causes of mood changes during pregnancy are hormones, lack of sleep, and anxiety. Pregnancy plays a substantial role in how progesterone and estrogen affect mental health. Progesterone is a calming hormone that loosens muscles and joints but can also lead to fatigue and depression, whereas estrogen is linked to anxiety, irritability, and depression.

Women’s mental health can also be impacted by nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, and nutritional deficiencies. Physical changes like abdominal and breast enlargement, weight gain, edema, water retention, and facial puffiness can cause happiness and exasperation.

5–15% of pregnant women experience mental health problems. Primogenital women have an exceptionally high incidence of this (first-time mothers). Concerns can arise from the stress related to their new baby and the physical changes. They may experience significantly more anxiety during a subsequent pregnancy if they have a history of poor obstetric outcomes, such as recurrent miscarriages, stillbirths, intrauterine deaths, or neonatal deaths.

They are under a lot of stress due to pregnancy-related medical complications like diabetes, hypertension, anemia, twin pregnancies, and pregnancy-associated complications.

Several of the typical mental health problems experienced during pregnancy include

  • Anxiety – Concern and fear over possible pregnancy complications. Concerns about childbirth, issues with physical and prenatal care, changes in professional roles or vocations, and a lack of parental guidance are a few factors that may make anxiety disorders more prevalent.
  • A state of depression is characterized by a persistent low mood, melancholy, or irritability. Women are affected by this condition before becoming pregnant, which can even worsen during childbirth.
  • Unexplained fear accompanied by a sharp physical reaction and sudden panic attacks.
  • Eating Disorders – Pregnant women may experience eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, binge eating, or live bulimia.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop in conjunction with a sudden, unanticipated event like the death of an unborn child.

Treatment for anxiety and depression

Psychological counseling, such as talk therapy, is an option for treating depression and anxiety. Speaking with a therapist is a great way to manage stress and ease pregnancy-related anxiety. Speaking with a social worker or counselor is another method for lowering pressure. Yoga and prenatal exercise are additional effective treatments for anxiety and depression. Medical therapy might be required in the worst stress and sleep deprivation cases. Without first consulting, their doctor, patients who are already taking psychiatric medications shouldn’t stop taking them abruptly because doing so can have rebound effects.

How to be joyful and relaxed

I recommend eating well because pregnancy requires enough calories to meet the increased need to manage mental well-being. A feeling of hunger may cause emotional outbursts. Create a balanced diet and eat wholesome foods as a result. Get moving because it’s a great stress reliever; it’s essential to warm up and do some easy, low-impact cardio.

The effect of mental health on infants

Adverse pregnancy outcomes have been linked to mental fitness during pregnancy. Among other pregnancy-related issues, low birth weight, fetal growth restriction, and increased stress can all result in preterm delivery. Stress or anxiety during the third trimester can lead to pre-eclampsia, preterm delivery, surgical delivery, and an increase in NICU admissions. Risks associated with severe mental illnesses that call for treatment include teratogenesis (congenital disabilities in the fetus), neonatal toxicity, and long-term neurobehavioral consequences.

A complex phenomenon, pregnancy is accompanied by social, psychological, physical, and physiological changes. Pregnancy-related psychological changes are influenced by social, cultural, and familial factors.

Recent Kinder Case Study

I want to share the case of Neena (name changed), a 34-year-old woman who has been married for six years and is experiencing primary infertility conceived through fertility treatment. When she first experienced pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) in the fifth month of her pregnancy, she had just started to enjoy it. On the 26th week, a C-section was required. The infant, about 650 g in weight and spent almost two months in the NICU, died of sepsis.One can not even imagine, what she must have gone through mentally, which is why she had to go undergo extensive psychological counseling before finally getting better. Dr. Aparna Patil is a consultant gynecologist and obstetrician at Kinder Women’s Hospital in Bengaluru.

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