This post is the follow up to last month's post on Stacey's experience with Depression in Pregnancy. The first post was intended to bring awareness to the issue and offer hope and encouragement, and this second post takes a closer look at some of the natural and wholistic methods of treating depression while pregnancy. There is another detailed post on this site with natural remedies for treating depression, but please note that that post does not take into account the safety of various remedies during pregnancy.
Written by Stacey T, Contributing Writer
In my last post here on Keeper of the Home, I talked about my struggles with ante-natal depression, or depression during pregnancy.
Very soon after finding out I was pregnant, the anxiety and depression hit; and it hit so suddenly and so severely that my efforts to fight it on my own were ineffective and frustrating, only adding further to my depression. I was spiraling downward quickly, and with two young boys to care for, my husband and I decided I should go on an anti-depressant medication, under the advice of my doctor, to try and get some relief as quickly as possible.
The anti-depressants did help, somewhat at least. The doctor prescribed me Wellbutrin which is a mild anti-depressant and is known as having “no established risks during pregnancy.” The pills didn’t magically make me my former happy self again and the anxiety I felt was much the same, but they did lift me just enough to be able to keep one foot in front of the other and continue caring for my children. It wasn’t ideal, but based on our situation, we did what we felt was best.
There are, however, a myriad of ways to treat ante-natal depression naturally. Preventing and treating things naturally is our preferred form of treatment but due to extreme morning sickness and the almost instantaneous drop I felt shortly after finding out I was pregnant, my husband and I felt we had no choice but to use another means for a time.
But now that the morning sickness is finally starting to subside somewhat and my hormone levels have stabilized somewhat for the moment, I’m back to reaching for those alternative treatments which I feel will be better for me and better for my baby. I’m weaning myself off of the medication (under the guidance of my doctor) because I feel and hope the worst is over.
5 Ways to Treat Depression Naturally During Pregnancy
Studies have shown that exercise can be as beneficial as anti-depressants in treating depression.
Unfortunately for many people suffering from depression, it is most difficult to do the things that will help the most. This is the situation I found myself in early in my pregnancy. I’ve never been much of an exerciser for exercises’ sake, so nothing sounded worse than hitting the gym or going for a run. Sure I probably needed to exercise but just couldn’t drag myself to do it.
If you find yourself in the same boat, maybe just start small and go for a short walk around the block or to the mailbox. I’m hoping that, now that I’m not quite as down as before, I can go for walks regularly which will not only get my blood pumping and endorphins flowing through my brain, but I’ll get some sunshine too.
2. Get some sun
It is true that sunshine warms the soul. And there’s good reason for that. From exposure to sunlight, our bodies are able to produce vitamin D. When people suffer from seasonal affective disorder, often real or artificial sunlight is part of the treatment. There is just something about being out in nature that brings a feeling of peace and helps put things into perspective.
3. Take Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements
A deficiency in Omega-3 Fatty Acids may cause or contribute to depression, especially during pregnancy when the baby is needing and using up stores of these fatty acids for it’s own growth and development. Taking a cod liver oil or fish oil supplement may help alleviate symptoms and will certainly also be good for you and your baby.
4. Add a B vitamin supplement
It is thought that depression during pregnancy may be caused by vitamin deficiencies. B-complex vitamins, in particular, are essential to our mental and emotional well-being. Our bodies do not store B vitamins and so we depend entirely on our daily intakes of these important vitamins to supply them. With the baby consuming so much, it is important to eat well by eating foods that are high in vitamins, especially B vitamins.
5. Get some talk therapy
Talk therapy can be a tremendous source of strength to those who suffer from depression and anxiety, whether pregnant or not. It helps to provide much needed perspective and an unbiased opinion. It is also nice just to have someone to talk with to express your thoughts and feelings. Finally a therapist can provide tools to help you deal with times when you feel yourself sliding into depression or negativity.
Those who already struggle with chemical and hormonal imbalances are more at risk of ante-natal depression, as is the case for me. Now that it’s been so severe, I can see how I have struggled with it for many years but it has gone largely unnoticed because it was so mild. The hormonal changes due to my pregnancy sent my already imbalanced system into a tail spin, so to speak.
If you suffer from depression and/or anxiety, and are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant, it is a good idea to implement these natural ways to treat depression as soon as possible. Hopefully a combination of natural remedies will give you the boost you need to stay afloat during this difficult time.
For those who have experienced depression while pregnant, which natural remedies and lifestyle treatments were helpful for you?
Disclaimer: This post is not intended to diagnose or treat any symptoms. If you feel this is something you are dealing with, it’s very important that you talk to your doctor or midwife about it as soon as possible.