You can get depression when you are pregnant. This is called antenatal depression.
With help and support most people with antenatal depression are able to manage the condition.
If antenatal depression is not treated symptoms can get worse and may continue after the baby is born (postnatal depression). So it is important to get help if you need it.
Some mood changes are normal in pregnancy, like feeling tired or irritable. But if you’re feeling low and hopeless all the time, and no longer enjoy the things you used to, talk to a midwife or GP.
Signs and symptoms of antenatal depression include:
- feeling sad, a low mood, or tearful a lot of the time
- feeling irritable, or getting angry easily
- losing interest in other people and the world around you
- not wanting to eat or eating more than usual
- negative thoughts, such as worrying you will not be able to look after your baby
- feeling guilty, hopeless or blaming yourself for your problems
- having problems concentrating or making decisions
Immediate action required: Call 999 if:
- you think there is a danger that you might harm yourself or others
- you are worried that someone else might harm themselves or others
Speak to a GP or your midwife as soon as possible if you think you might have antenatal depression.
With appropriate treatment and support, most people are able to manage their symptoms, though it can take time.
A GP or midwife may recommend a number of self-help tips that can help improve your mood. These include:
- talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, doctor or midwife
- trying calming breathing exercises if you feel overwhelmed
- increasing physical activity levels if you can as it can improve your mood and help you sleep
- attending antenatal classes to meet other pregnant people
- eating a healthy diet
A GP may recommend a self-help course or refer you for therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or counselling.
It may take several weeks to see a therapist or counsellor. CBT can be done ‘face to face’ with a counsellor or online, using a computer.
A GP should be able to explain more about different ways you can have CBT.
Antidepressant medicines may be recommended for you if you have moderate or severe depression and:
- you do not want to use psychological therapy
- psychological therapy has not worked for you
- you prefer to take medicine
Some people may benefit from having both psychological therapy and taking antidepressants.
Talk to a GP (or doctor in charge of your care) about antidepressants that are safer to take during pregnancy.
The doctor will usually offer the type with the lowest risk for you and your baby.
Your doctor can explain the risks and the benefits, and will help you decide which treatment is best for you and your baby.
Find out more about antidepressants and pregnancy on the Mind website.
You can search for your medicine on Bumps medicines you can use in pregnancy A-Z
Other mental health conditions
Other mental health conditions that can develop during pregnancy, or get worse because you are pregnant, include:
- anxiety disorders, including generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and panic disorder
- obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), where intrusive, unwanted and unpleasant thoughts, images or urges repeatedly enter a person's mind, causing them anxiety and leading to repetitive behaviours