Psychiatric Disorders In Pregnancy

Psychiatric Disorders in Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the amazing experiences in the life of a woman. You must ensure to be physically fit, and along with that, you must never ignore your mental health. Being happy, optimistic, and stress-free should be your topmost priority during your gestational period. But what if things do not go as intended? Statistics from the past few decades reflect a list of psychiatric disorders that have impacted your health during pregnancy. Several psychiatric disorders in pregnancy have been noticed such as depression, mental disorders, anxiety and panic disorders, bipolar disorders, sleep disorders, pregnancy mood disorders that are very prevalent. Experiencing these sorts of psychiatric disorders during pregnancy can also be fatal for the development of your fetus.

You should also keep in mind that, according to psychology, pregnant women are included in moderately vulnerable groups. That’s why you should never ignore any of these disorders. Initially, you may hesitate to take medications and therapies for these disorders but still you must consult a physician. If these disorders are left untreated, it may bring multiple adversities to your health, be it mentally, physically, emotionally, or socially and therefore you must have a routine health check-up during your pregnancy period.

Psychiatric Disorders In Pregnancy

Recent studies reveal that many psychiatric disorders in pregnancy have been recorded. Though, the chances of it occurring greatly vary, it solely depends on your capability to deal with negative thoughts, anticipation, depression, stress, anxiety, the environment, and the people with whom you are living.

  • Depression

One of the common psychiatric disorders associated with pregnancy is depression. Some of the general symptoms of depression are like change in appetite, a sleep disorder in pregnancy, and energy loss are quite tough to differentiate from the usual occurrences experienced by women during pregnancy.

Usually, the degree of depression experienced by pregnant women varies accordingly. Nearly over 70% women have said that they had suffered from negative mood symptoms during their pregnancy. The criteria for diagnosing depression during pregnancy are between 13.6% at 32 weeks and 17% at 35 to 36 weeks of the gestation period. Most women who are expecting babies have reported symptoms of peaks during the first and third trimesters and a general improvement in the signs around the second trimesters. It has been found by a recent study that pregnant women generally got themselves depressed between 18 and 32 weeks of the gestation period rather than the 32 weeks of the gestation period and 8 weeks of the postpartum.

  • Psychosocial Depression

Many psychosocial and various risk factors have been the cause of depression in women during their pregnancy. If a woman had a history of depression in her past days, had a family history of depression, earlier instances of postpartum depression or might have discontinued her medications prescribed by the doctor for eliminating depression are the factors which serve as a huge risk for causing depression in women during pregnancy.

The psychosocial factors that usually contribute to depression in mothers expecting babies are lack of social support, family member or the partner being unhappy about the pregnancy, maternal stress, or the woman’s negative attitude. Maternal depression and early childhood problems are primarily interrelated. It is being reported by a study that nearly 1123 mothers who are depressed during pregnancy period showed a lack of vocalizations and positive facial expressions with the infant. It is even found that in some cases, infants whose mother had suffered from depression during pregnancy is hard to console.

Most of the time, pregnant women with depression do not undergo proper medical therapy to reduce or eliminate depression. But if depression during pregnancy is kept untreated, it can invite a series of detrimental complications not only for the fetus but also for the mother. Complications like suicidal thoughts, use of alcohol and drugs, poor nutrition, thoughts of harming the fetus, lack of self-care, self-medication, absence of observance of prenatal care recommendations, and the common unfolding of postpartum depression after your little one’s birth. Dealing with depression during pregnancy is difficult and if it is kept untreated, it can even lead to a severe effect on the fetus, which can involve a host of dangers for the fetus and the mother.

  • Anxiety and Panic Disorders

Pregnancy mood disorders are very common and usually detected in pregnant mothers. Anxiety disorder during pregnancy is one of the common types of psychiatric disorders. Stress, anxiety, and anticipation are among the first and foremost signs of distress. Though it has been witnessed in many pregnancy cases, the severity and damage are very trivial in this disorder. But that does not necessarily mean you should ignore anxiety disorder during your pregnancy. Sometimes, too many little things give rise to further complexity. Whenever you have anxiety and anticipation, just confront and openly talk about them with your physician.

Panic disorder and anxiety disorder generally go hand in hand. The onset of panic disorder during pregnancy must not be ignored in any way. Sometimes, increased panic and anxiety disorder can result in increased resistance in uterine blood flow. As a result, the fetal brain development may get disrupted.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder

It is another mood disorder that is usually seen in pregnant mothers. When you worry about your little one’s health and the bodily changes during your pregnancy, then these destructive thoughts lead to depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Statistical data does not reflect much about this disease.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder in your pregnancy is very prevalent. Obsessive, uncontrolled, and repetitive thoughts tend to hamper you mentally and psychologically. Statistical data reflect that more than 39% of OCD in women commence during the gestational period.

  • Social Phobia

Another mental disorder in pregnancy is social phobia. A very lesser number of women experience social phobia. The widespread form of social phobia is called tokophobia, it is an intense fear and anxiety regarding childbirth and pregnancy. Postpartum depression can also be seen as an after effect of it.

  • Eating Disorders

Eating disorders among women during the period of pregnancy is not that common. About 4.9% of cases have been found where pregnant women are suffering from eating disorders. Symptoms of eating disorders generally do decrease during pregnancy.

The development of eating disorders among pregnant women is hazardous for both the mother and the fetus’s development. It is found by recent research that women who are pregnant and suffering from active eating disorders are usually at a huge risk. The threats include difficulty in delivery by cesarean section and postpartum depression, which follows after that. Women experiencing eating disorders while they are carrying have chances of very high rates of miscarriage and lower birth weights of infants.

  • Psychoses

Women who have developed psychoses during pregnancy without a prior history of the disease are the instances of an infrequent occurrence. For those women who had suffered psychoses during their earlier pregnancy, the relapse rates are very high. Pregnant women with psychoses generally suffer from bipolar mood disorders, usually being followed by schizophrenia and depression.

  • Bipolar Mood Disorder

Predominantly, the chance of its occurrence is severe during pregnancy. Initially, it comes as a symptom-relieving element during pregnancy, but the adversity commences after childbirth. Recent studies notify that this particular disorder has no such huge impact on your health during your pregnancy. But, lithium responsive bipolar tends to cause more than 14% relapses in the first trimester (in the fifth week) of your pregnancy and a high chance of postpartum relapse too. You must take care of yourself if you are diagnosed with bipolar while you are pregnant.

  • Schizophrenia

Very little data is available about women suffering from schizophrenia during the period of pregnancy. Whatever limited information is being made available, it is found that it is variable. Some pregnant women have reported that they have experienced improved symptoms, whereas other expecting mothers have experienced their symptoms worsened over time.

Women who had a history of psychoses need to be closely observed and monitored during pregnancy as it can lead to a lot of fatal consequences for both the expecting mother and her fetus. Schizophrenia in pregnant women can result in adverse pregnancy outcomes, for example, prematurity and low weight of the baby during birth, neonaticide or suicide, and failure to obtain proper prenatal care.

Patients who have schizophrenia while being pregnant must undergo proper medical care and treatment. The treatment of schizophrenia consists of constant help and support and pharmacotherapy. A patient must be hospitalized if the situation is very serious. Women suffering from depression during their pregnancy can also take electroconvulsive therapy to ease and eliminate the illness.

Management Of Psychiatric Disorders In Pregnancy

Several managements are taken to prevent and control their severity and eliminate their root causes.

1) Management of depression – Depression during pregnancy is medically treated just like depression experienced at any point in life, but the only thing that needs to be ensured is the fetus’s safety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy are some of the standard methods usually adopted by psychiatrists to cure depression in women during pregnancy. Awareness and education are essential to deal with patients suffering from depression during the pregnancy period. Proper guidance, assistance, and care must be bestowed to the pregnant women who all are experiencing depression. Medical treatment of depression also includes the introduction of various anti-depressants. Patients must be made aware of the possible risk of having those anti-depressants during pregnancy by the psychiatrist.

2) Management of anxiety and panic disorder – Treatment for anxiety and panic disorder generally includes pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies. In pharmacological therapy, anti-depressants and sedatives are given for inducing sleep and symptomatic relief. Non-pharmacological treatment includes diet modification, relaxation techniques, sleep hygiene, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

3) Management of generalized anxiety disorder – Consult a psychiatrist and physician, they will guide you to deal with a generalized anxiety disorder through various pharmacological and pharmacological therapy.

4) Management of obsessive-compulsive disorder – Pharmacotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy are mostly assigned in obsessive-compulsive disorder.

5) Management of social phobia – Anti-anxiety or anti-depressants medications are suggested in case of social phobia. Additionally, cognitive behavioral therapy is also recommended as a fear reduction technique.

6) Management of eating disorder – Eating disorders can be cured by individual or group therapy and nutritional counseling.

7) Management of psychoses – Antipsychotic medicines that block dopamine is primarily used to cure psychoses in pregnant women.

8) Management of bipolar mood disorder – Proper assessment and nursing diagnosis need to be done beforehand. Based on the evaluation, intervention should be formulated. Interventions should include the use of mood stabilizers, close monitoring of psychological assessment throughout your gestational period. Parallelly, history of bipolar mood disorder, any previous occurrence, its severity, and episodic patterns, family supports need to be summed up.

9) Management of schizophrenia – Use of various antipsychotic medicines, mood stabilizers, and anti-depressants can reduce the symptoms and risks of schizophrenia during pregnancy.


Early diagnosis and treatment are the most suitable options. You should never ignore any of these psychiatric disorders in pregnancy. Pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy are the most preferred strategies to treat these conditions. You should always take proper guidance and recommendation. Stay alert and be cautious for the sake of your mental health and your baby’s health.

If you know any other psychiatric disorder then do share it with other moms in the comment section below.


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