Depression and Pregnancy


Not necessarily a nutrition question, but it does relate to the health of my baby. I found out I was pregnant and a week later, found out my dad's cancer came back, and has spread to his liver. I have hardly been able to stop crying, and I know this can't be good! Can emotional upset harm my baby? I am 9 weeks, 35 years of age, with my first child.

Dr. Greene's Answer

Masonwalls, my heart weeps for you. Such sadness in your time of joy, such joy in your sadness. And fear surrounding it all. No wonder you can’t stop crying.

Sometimes life feels so unfair.

People often think of pregnancy as a special time when women feel biologically complete and insulated from the sadness in the surrounding world. And it is special…

The truth is, though, that the rates of depression in pregnant and non-pregnant women are very similar. From this you know that you are not alone, and that many women have gone through difficult times while pregnant, shed many tears, and had healthy, wonderful babies at the end.

Still, ongoing full-blown depression can sometimes affect a developing baby, both directly and through inadequate nutrition. The risks are small, but real. Thankfully, there are safe treatments for pregnant women. Whether you need treatment or not, the outlook for your baby is good.

When there are major emotional storms during pregnancy, it is wise to stay in close touch with both an obstetrician and a psychiatrist. You deserve their support and their help in navigating this journey.

Today is a beautiful spring day where I am. As I feel the warmth of the sun, I am hoping that you find moments of sunshine and wildflowers to warm your heart.

You and your little baby are so closely linked. You do shield your baby from most of what happens outside. You surround your baby with love and with the perfect hug. And your baby hugs you, inside, where you need it the most.

Life is bittersweet. But you face it together.

Please stay in touch…

Last medical review on: September 27, 2008
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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