Depression, Mania, Suicidal Tendencies During Pregnancy

Depression, Mania, Suicidal Tendencies During Pregnancy

Nearly all women experience some degree of "morning sickness" -- nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester. The cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is believed to be rapidly rising serum levels of a hormone called HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) secreted by the fetus. Increased estrogen levels have also been implicated.


Pregnancy is certainly an occasion of great celebration for most women most of the time. However, emotions during that time are not always straight forward, and depression is a common (although most often a temporary) companion. A 2001 study found that depression during pregnancy was more common than depression after pregnancy, with the highest depression scores occurring in week 32.

Prenatal depression can affect a mother's sleep, physical activity, and adherence to care, and appetite -- all of which can affect the unborn child. Some research suggests that depression during pregnancy may pose a risk for later language and behavior problems in the child later on. Some believe that depression is the leading cause of divorce and we know that domestic violence is highest around pregnancy and childbirth.

Over the eight-year period examined with the population of Medicaid eligible women in California, after controlling for age and psychiatric history, aborting women were 3.1 times more likely to die from suicide compared to delivering women. In a study in Finland shown that women who had abortions were 3.7 times more likely to die from suicide in the year following abortion than non-pregnant women and 6.5 times more likely to commit suicide than women who had given birth. Two of these suicides were also connected with homicides. Examples of post-abortive women killing their born children in concert with a suicide attempt following an abortion have also been documented in the United States.

Last year (2007) the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said women with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and severe mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder also need to be identified. Up to one in seven women experience a mental health disorder at some point in pregnancy or after the birth. Women with bipolar disorder who wish to conceive, or who become pregnant, face special challenges due to the possible harmful effects of existing mood stabilizing medications on the developing fetus and the nursing infant.

With pregnancy, your mood swings can go crazy as your hormones change in preparation for having a baby. In fact, almost 20 percent of women will experience some from of depression while pregnant with 10 percent of these women experiencing major depression. Any depression, but especially major depression can lead to suicidal tendencies. If you were prone to depression before getting pregnant, you are more likely to experience depression while pregnant. Miscarriage poses a very high risk for depression, particularly in the first month after the loss.

It is very possible that maternal deprivation creates a vulnerability to schizophrenia if there is subsequent abuse. Children with schizophrenic mothers are twice as likely to develop the illness as those with an afflicted father. This could be because disturbing mothers are a major factor. Equally, it could be due to gender-linked genetic inheritance, but there are strong reasons to doubt it.

Depression and anxiety are common during pregnancy as well as during the postnatal period, and postnatal depression has been shown to have detrimental effects on the child's development and behavior long after the depression has passed. Patients may want to know the likelihood of developing a mental illness during or after pregnancy, particularly if they have a history of doing so in previous pregnancies. Finally, patients may also present with the onset of a mental illness during pregnancy.

For instance, the mothers of 11,000 Finns were asked if they had considered an abortion for their child during pregnancy, a clear sign that the child was unwanted, increasing the likelihood of subsequent maternal deprivation. Followed up 28 years later, the offspring of mothers who had sought abortions were four times more likely to be schizophrenic - not likely to be anything to do with genes.

In some people, however, symptoms of mania and depression may occur together in what is called a mixed bipolar state. Symptoms of a mixed state often include agitation, trouble sleeping, significant change in appetite, psychosis, and suicidal thinking. A person may have a very sad, hopeless mood while at the same time feeling extremely energized.

In Read's analysis, letting go of that rope will prevent it strangling the many schizophrenics whose illness has been caused by abuse. Genes may still emerge as a major cause of vulnerability to schizophrenia, as may problems during pregnancy. There is already no question that illicit hallucinogenic drugs are a major reason some vulnerable people become ill.

Pregnancy creates competition for nutrients between the fetus and the pregnant woman, which can cause a variety of disorders during pregnancy and child development.

Eating disorders affect approximately seven million American women each year and tend to peak during child bearing years. Pregnancy is a time when body image concerns are more prevalent, and for those who are struggling with an eating disorder, the nine months of pregnancy can cause disorders to worsen. Women with eating disorders have higher rates of postpartum depression and are more likely to have problems with breastfeeding.

More than one in 10 pregnant women smoke in the United States, and new research suggests many of them also may suffer from depression, which makes kicking the habit even harder. 30 percent of the smokers had a mental health disorder, as did more than half who were nicotine-addicted, and the vast majority suffered depression. The smokers were about three times as likely to have a disorder as pregnant nonsmokers; Goodwin recently (Sept.2007) reported in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Depression tends to come and go in episodes, but once a child or adolescent has one period of depression, he or she is more likely to get depressed again at some point in the future. Without treatment, the consequences of depression can be extremely serious. Children are likely to have ongoing problems in school, at home, and with their friends. They are also at increased risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, adolescent pregnancy, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Several results shown that parental panic disorder, regardless of co morbidity with major depression, were associated with an increased risk for panic disorder and agoraphobia in children. Parental depression, regardless of co morbidity with panic disorder, was associated with increased risks for social phobia, major depression, disruptive behavior disorders and poorer social functioning in children.

A study (April, 2007) by researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health indicate that a significant association between cigarette use, nicotine dependence, and the presence of mental disorders among pregnant women. The results also indicate that approximately 30 percent of pregnant women who used cigarettes had a mental disorder, with personality disorders, major depressive disorder, and specific phobia among the most common psychological ailments. Mental disorders were even more common among pregnant women with nicotine dependence, affecting more than 57 percent. In terms of specific disorders, the strongest associations with nicotine dependence were seen for prolonged depression, panic disorder, and major depressive disorder.

At the University of California, San Diego, Lisa Boulanger, PhD found that "human data show that in genetically predisposed individuals, a maternal viral infection during pregnancy increases the chance of the child developing either autism or schizophrenia later in life".

Women who drink during pregnancy run a serious risk of damaging their fetuses. Relatives and friends can be killed or injured in alcohol-related accidents and assaults. "Individuals suffering from depression may experience changes in eating or sleeping habits, a loss of interest in activities, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration, low self-esteem, and in some cases, thoughts of harming themselves," explained Gregory G. Homish, research associate at the Research Institute on Addictions at the University at Buffalo - SUNY and first author of the study.

"Individuals with an alcohol-use disorder tend to drink more alcohol than intended, may unsuccessfully try to reduce the amount they consume, may change their involvement in social, work or other activities, and may continue to use alcohol despite awareness that it is harmful or causing problems in their lives. Individuals with coexisting conditions often are more difficult to treat and have a poorer prognosis."

Finding out your pregnant as a teenager can feel disastrous. Suddenly you may think your future plans are gone. You may even have thoughts of suicide. Here are some ideas of what you should do if you find yourself pregnant and suicidal. Deaths of a close friend or family member, divorce, abandonment by a parent, pregnancy, and the breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend are the common risk factors for teenage suicide.

Anxious or depressed mothers-to-be are at increased risk of having children who will experience sleep problems in infancy and toddlerhood, finds a study that published this month in Early Human Development. A similar effect was found in children born to mothers who were anxious or depressed during pregnancy. "This problematic sleep is notable; it may be part of the reason why mood-disturbed pregnancies are linked to children's behavioral disorders, like depression, hyperactivity and anxiety, later on down the road" study concluded.

The emerging science suggests that decades-old "quit for your baby" messages are too simplistic an approach for many women, and perhaps prenatal checkups should include screening pregnant smokers for mental health disorders that themselves require care.

Schedule a prenatal visit early in your pregnancy and inform your health care provider that you have been struggling with an eating disorder.

ECT may also be indicated for suicidal individuals during pregnancy and for those who have already failed to tolerate or respond to trials of medication and other psychosocial interventions play an important role in the treatment of individuals with suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

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