Managing Pregnancy Anxiety & Depression: 3 Tips From Moms & Experts!

Pregnancy marks one of the greatest times of change in a woman/mom’s life. Physical, emotional, and hormonal changes can impact your mood. For many women, mixed in with the joy and excitement, pregnancy can trigger feelings of anxiety and fear. According to The American Pregnancy Association, the number of pregnant women who exhibit signs of depression could be as high as 1 in 4, and it is so important that women reach out to their doctors, families, and friends when experiencing prenatal depression. Here are 3 tips to help give you manage any anxiety or depression-type feelings:

KUF_POST_anxiety_depression

Tip # 1 – Take it Slowly and Enjoy the Little Things

Understanding how depression feels is the first important step in treatment. Often pregnant mom’s don’t think they could be experiencing depression, since pregnancy is usually considered a time of such great joy. Brittany, from the Knocked-Up Fitness Real Mom Blogs discussed her experiences with prenatal depression. She shares, “I had experienced bad days similar to the rest of humanity, but I can honestly say that I had never been depressed to the point where I felt stagnant in my own life”. Understanding that depression is nothing to be ashamed of and very treatable is the first step to feeling better. This was Brittany’s experience:

“For some reason during my first trimester, I could not shake this feeling of utter despair and loathing. I had lost complete control of my body and my emotions, leading to a feeling of helplessness. Due to this lack of control in my life, I completely abandoned my workout routine (which was a shock to my husband since I had worked out two hours a day before getting pregnant). I started skipping work just to lay in bed and run to the bathroom every five minutes. I distanced myself from friends and family members, and even my husband’s attempts to brighten my day failed.

Similar to most women, I did not mention my current state of mind to my doctor. I pretended to be happy during each office visit, but I could not shake the thought that began to enter my mind: I wish I was not pregnant so I could be me again. I know admitting this single thought probably will earn me the “worst woman of the year” award, but it was honestly how I felt at the time.”

Learning to become herself again, or ‘waking up’, as Brittany says, started with little steps– literally.

“I walked the dog for 10 minutes just to get out of the house. I forced myself to go to the gym with my husband, even if all I did was sit stagnantly on the exercise bike for an hour and watch Netflix on my phone (yes, I was “that” woman for a while). I began cooking my favorite dishes that reminded me of my grandmother and filled my house with the familiar smells of my childhood. Then slowly I began emerging from this thick fog that surrounded my pregnancy.

Once I began “waking up,” I found a prenatal yoga class that began to help me reconnect with myself and my growing child. This weekly class soon became my salvation as each Thursday night I found myself craving a yoga mat and the relaxation that soon followed. Also, just being around other pregnant women helped me realize that this was a period in my life that I should embrace and cherish. Toward the third month, my husband and I started attending a weekly birth preparation class. As cliché as it may sound, surrounding myself with women who were also on this pregnancy roller coaster helped me realize that I did not have to suffer alone.”

Connecting with your partner, your baby, and most importantly yourself can help you overcome the feelings associated with depression.

Tip # 2 – Exercise!

While there are many causes and levels of severity of depression, a study out of Harvard Medical School showed that 60-70% of people experiencing depression could significantly reduce their depression symptoms through exercise– interestingly, the same percentage of people whose symptoms are reduced through medication.

The most exciting part of this study is that it won’t take hours of sweating at the gym each day to reduce anxiety and depression. Simple, moderate exercises you can do at home, around your block, or at the park with your kids can provide the activity level necessary to achieve the benefits of exercising. Try to incorporate stretching, cardio, and body weight training, and find what you enjoy most and what feels best for your body. Exercising does amazing things for the body, and treating depression and anxiety is just one of them. During pregnancy, exercising can improve balance and stability, self-esteem, sleep patterns, blood pressure, and increase social interaction– and it can be fun!

The study found that approximately 35 minutes a day, 5 days a week– or 60 minutes a day three days a week– of moderate exercise can impact depression so heavily that patients are no longer classified with the diagnosis. A follow up study found that participants who exercised for six months after the study had maintained and improved symptom reductions. These results are based on a 150lb person, exercising at the intensity of fast-walking, and based on your weight or previous activity level you may need to adjust your intensity and duration– start by getting clearance from your doctor on the level of intensity you’re approved for.

Tip # 3 — Discuss Alternatives with Your Doctor

Experts have known for many years that exercise releases endorphins– the body’s natural feel-good chemical that reduces pain perception and increase immunity, and also believe that exercise stimulates the neurotransmitter norephinepherine– which may directly improve mood. Leading hollistic specialist have discussed depression and natural treatments, including Dr. Russell Blaylock and Dr. Andrew Weil, who strongly believe in using natural approaches to improving our daily lives. These experts note several naturally occurring supplements and biological chemicals have been shown to have a positive effect on depression and anxiety:
  • Vitamin D boosts brain development and function, improves chemical signal reception, and increases the function of monoamines like serotonin– a natural, biological chemical that makes us feel good.
  • Plant phytochemicals, both in foods and supplements, naturally contain antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties– improving dopamine function.
  • Low levels of zinc, B12, and Omega 3’s have also been associated with depression symptoms, so you might consider a supplement or capsules– or be sure your prenatal vitamin includes enough of each.
  • A probiotic supplement or consuming foods with pro and prebiotics have been linked to reduced cases of depression. This is how some medications will treat depression.
Natural approaches have been studied a great deal more in the last decade, and are continuing to be studied– and in many cases, natural supplements have provided similar symptom reduction to medications– without the side effects and dangers associated with some medications taken during pregnancy. Often doctors will prescribe medications to control and balance depression, which can greatly improve the quality of life for someone experiencing depression, but you should always be an advocate for your own health by researching how to best control your symptoms. Talking to your doctors about the safety of specific depression medications can ease your concern, and together you can confidently make a decision on the treatment style that is best for you.
Many people who suffer from depression can successfully overcome their symptoms, like our Real Mom, Brittany, who was able use exercise, food, communication, and enjoying things that made her happy to manage her feelings. Controlling depression during pregnancy can be intimidating, but by using these tips and talking to your doctor you can enjoy your pregnancy and start feeling better!

~ Julianna

* * * * * * *

Other Related Knocked-Up Fitness Posts:

 

Sources:

Harvard Health

American Pregnancy

7 Comments

  • Trackback: What Are the Best Treatments for Depression During Pregnancy?
  • Posted July 12, 2014
    by webstores.uk.com

    Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is fantastic, as weell as the content!

  • Posted November 16, 2014
    by Seo Black Book

    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for sem trim paint

  • Posted February 5, 2015
    by Mind Release

    Great advice! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

  • Trackback: Depression During Pregnancy: Reasons, Symptoms &Treatment
  • Posted July 25, 2018
    by healthcare

    It is always advisable to manage the depression without any medicinal support, if possible. However, everything should be done with complete consent of the consulting doctor. When needed the gynaecologist/obstetrician may suggest consultation with a psychotherapist to manage the symptoms.

  • Posted February 5, 2019
    by healthfolks

    Thank you for sharing such a piece of good information. It is very useful for Pregnancy women.
    For more tips about pregnancy women visit
    https://www.healthfolks.com/health-tips/

Leave a comment