When women suffering from depression, bipolar disorder or other mental health illnesses become pregnant, they have many concerns to consider. Will their prescribed medication harm their baby? If they don't take their medication, will symptoms keep them from having a healthy, happy pregnancy? Psychiatrist Dr. Shari Lusskin, director of reproductive psychiatry at New York University Medical Center, talks with Dr. Oz about these questions and offers some insight to help all mothers keep their minds healthy during pregnancy.
Women who already know they have a mental illness may be able to better prepare themselves for pregnancy—it is the women who have not been diagnosed who may face the biggest risks during and after pregnancy, Dr. Lusskin says. Common signs of mental illness that Dr. Lusskin says pregnant women may encounter as early as the first trimester include:
- Lack of energy
- Little to no appetite
- Sleep disorders
- Sad, blue, hopeless and helpless mood swings
- Suicidal feelings
- Lack of bonding with the baby
Some mental illness medications may not be healthy for a pregnant woman's fetus, but Dr. Lusskin says treatment is still important. "Not treating the illness exposes the baby to risks as well," she says. Your OB/GYN and psychiatrist can work together to help treat your illness with proper medication, she says.
Dr. Lusskin says these lifestyle changes may also help you stay mentally healthy:
- Exercise regularly. Dr. Lusskin says exercise can help alleviate minor cases of depression, and also promotes overall health.
- Eat healthy. "Don't binge on carbs—that is not a good thing,"Dr. Lusskin says. Overeating in general will make you feel bad about yourself and affects your mood, she says.
- Minimize environmental stress. "When a woman is highly anxious and depressed, her biochemical environment changes," she says. "Those chemicals have an effect on a developing fetus."