When depression strikes in the modern world, one of the most popular forms of treatment is anti-depression medication. Antidepressants are believed to work by making the job of neurotransmitters (chemicals such as serotonin and noradrenaline which are responsible for passing signals across brain cells and around the body) more efficient.

It is essential to tackle any depression that you experience during pregnancy. However, you may understandably feel worried about using medication, instead preferring to try alternative options. If you are suffering from mild to moderate depression, here are 3 things you can do to help manage it while pregnant.  

Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food

You probably know that you should eat a healthy diet during your pregnancy so you may already be eating better. What you may not realise is that a healthy diet is not just a benefit to your body, it's also a benefit to your mind. Diet can affect your blood sugar and hormone levels, impacting on your mood. Additionally, certain foods are known to be good for the brain. Interestingly, studies suggest a correlation between the drop in omega-3 fatty acids in the Western diet and a rise in psychiatric disorders over the same time span. If you're not sure what you should be eating, a good nutritionist will be able to guide you on foods that promote mental wellbeing as well as foods you should limit or avoid during pregnancy.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

You've probably been told that exercise and a fit body will make pregnancy easier to manage, and help you at the birthing stage.  You may also have heard the saying 'healthy body, healthy mind'. Over the years, this saying has been proven to be true. There's a wealth of research to support the benefits of exercise on mental health. You may not feel like doing much exercise if you're feeling depressed, so start small and build yourself up. A hearty walk outside every day can be a good first step to feeling better. Numerous studies have proven that exercise releases endorphins, stimulating feelings of happiness. It also increases the production and release of serotonin—a chemical that has a significant role in mood, anxiety and happiness. Yoga can be a good way to exercise during your pregnancy. Joining a pregnancy yoga class could also be the ideal way to meet other pregnant women and to build a support network.  

A Problem Shared Is a Problem Halved

Talk therapy can be an enormous benefit when dealing with all depression, whether you're pregnant or not. Professional counselling can help relieve some of your feelings of depression. This can be especially helpful if your depression centres around your concerns about motherhood. A counsellor's reassurance and advice may relieve some of these concerns. Likewise, talking to other people in a similar situation to yourself can also work. In a study of 52 women, researchers at a Californian University found that sharing your anxiety with people experiencing the same type of anxiety can reduce the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). The old saying 'a problem shared is a problem halved' now has some scientific evidence to back it up.

Always seek medical advice and inform your doctor about what you are planning to do to treat your depression.

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