I am pregnant and suffer from depression. How can I cope?

Q: I'm 20 years old and 22 weeks pregnant with my first child and I've been depressed for 9 years. I usually control it by "swallowing" everything (I know, healthy, right?). Lately, it feels like I can't control it as well as before and I can cry and be stressed out all day. I have no job, no car and am living with my in-laws. Sometimes I feel like it's too tough to handle. How can I calm myself down? I hate feeling this way. Can someone help me?

A: I think one of the most common things people assume when they are feeling sad or depressed is that they should be strong enough to handle it, that they should be able to swallow their feelings as you have been trying to do. Unfortunately, most of the time we just aren't able to do that. There are several kinds of sadness. One of the kind we feel when we have had something bad happen to us, like losing a parent. We tend to get upset but with time, we eventually get back to normal. The other kind of sadness may not have a specific trigger and your symptoms fluctuate off and on. This is the kind of sadness which we call depression.

Depression is an illness, it can be genetic, but like most illnesses, it is tough to cure by yourself. We know that pregnancy can make symptoms of depression worse, not only during one's pregnancy but it can be more pronounced after the baby is born. Anyone with a history of depression can be at a higher risk of post-partum depression.  Research shows that there are two ways to treat depression-medication (antidepressant medications) and cognitive-behavioral therapy. I would suggest that you tell your obstetrician that you are having symptoms of depression, and the two of you can discuss which would be a better alternative for you. And in fact, the most recent research shows that combining the two approaches can give you the best outcome of all.

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