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A Stanford University School of Medicine study of 150 pregnant, depressed women found acupuncture to be more effective than massage or placebo in alleviating symptoms. And a number of small trials suggest that supplementing with as little as 300 milligrams daily of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, might not only alleviate depression during pregnancy but also prevent it postpartum. Epperson’s team also recently began studying a noninvasive technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation, which uses a magnetic coil placed on the scalp to stimulate nerve cells in areas of the brain involved in mood control. preliminary results show 20 15-minute sessions can relieve symptoms in 70 percent of moms-to-be with no side effects.
Settling on the most effective treatment for depression during pregnancy is a decision that should be made in conjuction with your health care provider. With her doctor’s blessing, Trojanowski participated in an 8-week mindfulness meditation and yoga class and found relief for her depression, without antidepressants. Says Dimidjian, “The most important thing is that you do something.”
While many pregnant women with mild depression can find relief without medication, C. Neill Epperson, M.D., says there are cases in which talk therapy alone or in combination with antidepressant medications should definitely be considered:
-When the mother is suicidal
-When her depression affects the well-being of her other children
-When she has a history of moderate-to-severe depression, she feels it coming on again and medication has worked in the past
-When her depression has made it difficult for her to take care of her own basic needs (eating, going to the doctor, etc.)
-When she experiences a significant decline in her ability to enjoy usually pleasurable activities