The classic image of a pregnant woman is of a serene, contented, glowing mum-to-be but nearly 20% of pregnancies in the UK are accompanied by feelings of depression and anxiety. Speaking from personal experience, it is difficult to recognise depression in pregnancy as it is tempting to put the early signs down to pregnancy fatigue. Even when we do start to wonder whether we are struggling under the weight of depression, it is still difficult to reach out for help.
Some of this reluctance could be a misplaced sense of failure, it can be difficult to admit that this magical time is being marred with feelings of low mood, sadness or an overwhelming lack of pleasure and vitality. Some of the reluctance to reach out may be because of a dislike that many have about taking medicines during pregnancy, the fear being that any diagnosis of 'depression' might be accompanied by a prescription for antidepressants.
Fortunately antidepressants are not the only solution to antenatal depression; clinical trials have shown that acupuncture is as effective as standard care for antenatal depression [Manber et al, 2010]. Another huge study has shown it to be a safe therapy during pregnancy which carries no recognised risk of harm to the developing baby [Park et al, 2014].
If you, or a loved one are showing signs of struggling with depression through pregnancy, reach out; talk to your midwife, talk to your GP, talk with your friends and family. Many people will understand what you are going through, and some will have been through something similar. I found the experience of antenatal depression quite frightening and would like to help support other women living through it.
My Acupuncture degree dissertation was written about the evidence to support the use of acupuncture for the treatment of antenatal depression. In recent years I have undertaken postgraduate training with Debra Betts, a leading figure in the world of antenatal acupuncture; this training provided me with the expert knowledge and confidence to enable me to work safely with mums-to-be to support them through their pregnancy. You are not alone.
Rachel Manber; Rosa N. Schnyer; Deirdre Lyell; Andrea S. Chambers; Aaron B. Caughey; Maurice Druzin; Erin Carlyle; Christine Celio; Jenna L. Gress; Mary I. Huang; Tasha Kalista; Robin Martin-Okada; John J. B. Allen
Acupuncture for Depression During Pregnancy: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Obstetrics & Gynecology. 115(3):511-520, MAR 2010.
Park J, Sohn Y, White AR, Lee H.
The safety of acupuncture during pregnancy: a systematic review.
Acupuncture in Medicine. 2014;32(3):257-266.