By Dr. Dawn Kingston
Women who have experienced emotional distress before they became pregnant often wonder if they are doomed to suffer from depression or anxiety during pregnancy or after they have had their babies.
The short answer is:
Doomed – no.
At risk – yes.
Emotional distress before pregnancy and after pregnancy: A risk…but not destiny
If you’ve experienced depression before you became pregnant, you have a significant risk of developing depression in pregnancy or after you’ve had your baby.
But, much like a family history of diabetes increases your risk but doesn’t destine you to develop diabetes, a history of depression doesn’t guarantee that you will develop depression or anxiety during pregnancy or after delivery.
How can you reduce your risk? By actively managing it.
How to manage your risk of depression and anxiety: 3 tips
Just like diabetes can be prevented with a healthy diet and exercise, you can lower the risk of experiencing depression again when you are pregnant (or after you’ve had your baby).
Here are 3 tips to keep your risk of depression and anxiety low in pregnancy and beyond:
1. Be aware of your risk and take control of it.
Now is not the time to ignore that past episode of depression or anxiety. Now is the time to accept that it happened…. and actively manage it.
2. Actively manage your risk with these 7 proven lifestyle strategies:
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep increases your risk of depression and anxiety.
- Do 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise 3 times per week. Jogging, stationary biking, walking, and swimming are all recommended during pregnancy.
- Spend time with trusted friends. Connecting with friends is one of the best things that you can do to stay emotionally healthy. Friends help us to see different perspectives, they make us feel understood, and they bolster our resilience.