Pregnant with Disabilities: Depression

Today's post is the second in this week's series devoted to pregnancy and disabilities.

Sherean is mother to a 20-month-old happy and healthy boy named Hunter and lives with on-again, off-again depression. Her post talks about dealing with and treating depression during her pregnancy. Sherean blogs at Random Neural Firings.


There's a lot of press about postpartum depression. I mean, who hasn't heard of Brooke Shields squaring off against Tom Cruise over it? I was prepared for postpartum depression. I'd struggled with depression before, mostly in my 20's, but some in my 30's, and knew that put me at a higher risk.

What I didn't know is that you can also get depression DURING pregnancy : perinatal depression, it's often called. I got it, big time, along with a big wallop of anxiety. So bad I had to see a psychiatrist and was treated for it with medication. Of course, this made me feel guilty and like I was going to hurt my baby. The doctor explained that the risks with the medication weren't known, but they did know the damage that depression and anxiety could do to a developing fetus. Small comfort, right?

I took the meds and cried. My husband was wonderfully supportive. By mid second trimester, the hormones that were causing those problems went away, I guess, and I felt better. Just like the psychiatrist predicted. But the fact that I had depression during pregnancy put me at an even higher risk for postpartum so we were vigilant, watching for signs. Fortunately, I dodged that bullet.

I felt like such a bad pregnant woman. I hated being pregnant. I felt sick: you name it and I got it. I even got RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) in pregnancy. The physical problems on top of the depression made for a pretty unhappy time. I remember crying on the couch and feeling soooo guilty that I wasn't feeling happy. Everyone's happy when they're pregnant, right?

I knew I had depression and I knew it was triggered by something in my chemical stew. I'd been pregnant twice before (miscarriages); one pregnancy made it to 11 weeks and I didn't have anywhere near this kind of anxiety. So the minute I sorted out that this wasn't "normal" pregnancy hormone stuff, I marched my butt to my Ob and said "help."

My son was born completely happy and healthy. I was thrilled and am thrilled every single day. He is such a delight. I can barely remember what it was like when I was pregnant to curl up on the couch and not want to read or watch TV or eat. It really is hard to remember, even though it wasn't that long ago. It's like once the happy hormones kicked in, I developed amnesia about how awful it all was. I would not wish that on anyone. I agreed to be interviewed and photographed for a piece in the New York Times on the subject, because I hope if you're struggling, you'll speak up, too. There is help. You will get through it and you will get better.

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