What are the most common mental health issues during pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a time of dramatic physical changes for a woman. What many do not realize is that women can experience changes in their mental health, as well, during this time. While mild mood swings are common in pregnancy, some women may develop serious mental health disorders. Some women have pre-existing conditions, too, that can be exacerbated by physical triggers during pregnancy.

Some common mental health disorders experienced during pregnancy include:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • PTSD
  • OCD
  • Eating disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Panic attacks

Any woman experiencing feelings of sadness or anxiety during pregnancy should consider speaking with a mental health professional. Maintaining one’s mental health during pregnancy is just as important as maintaining one’s physical health.

How does pregnancy affect mental health?

Pregnancy affects the body in many ways. These physical changes can also trigger mental health issues in some women. For one, women experience significant hormone fluctuations during pregnancy that can affect mood. They may also experience bouts of insomnia or physical discomfort, all of which can exacerbate stress and anxiety. First-time mothers or mothers who have become unexpectedly pregnant may also have heightened anxiety about what is to come. Many women also develop mental health issues after pregnancy, as their hormones once again shift dramatically.

Women experiencing mental health issues during or after pregnancy should never feel they need to hide their symptoms. Mental health issues are quite common during this time; some research suggests that one in four women experiences a shift in mental health during pregnancy. Seeking out the support and counseling of a mental health professional is the best way to take care of yourself and your child.

How therapists & psychiatrists can help pregnancy related mental health conditions

As with any mental health condition, doctors may treat mental health disorders during pregnancy with therapy, medication, lifestyle changes or some combination thereof.

When it comes to prescription medication, pregnant women should always consult closely with their doctors. Doctors can help women determine which medications are best and safest during this crucial time. Women with pre-existing conditions may wonder whether they should continue their medication during pregnancy. No one with a mental health condition should stop taking their medication without consulting with their psychiatrist.

Women can also benefit from talk therapy during pregnancy. Working with a therapist can ameliorate stress and anxiety and help women develop coping mechanisms for dealing with the changes they are experiencing.

Finally, women may also incorporate lifestyle changes into their lives during pregnancy. Activities such as meditating, practicing yoga, or journaling can all help with stress and anxiety.