ANNOUNCER: For many mothers-to-be, pregnancy is a time of joy. But it's a myth that hormones during pregnancy offer a woman natural protection from depression.
SHARI LUSSKIN, MD: If you look at women who present for treatment of depression postpartum, 50% of them were depressed during the pregnancy. Unfortunately, women who are depressed and pregnant very infrequently get proper care.
ANNOUNCER: Specialist Dr Shari Lusskin says without treatment, a major depression carries special risks for a mother-to-be.
SHARI LUSSKIN, MD: Women who are more seriously depressed not only feel sad, blue, hopeless and helpless, but also may be thinking of suicide. And obviously, suicide poses a risk to the baby as well as the mother. They may not take care of themselves because they're not motivated or they don't have the energy. So they don't eat properly.
ANNOUNCER: The right treatment can minimize those risks.
SHARI LUSSKIN, MD: Making a diagnosis of depression often relieves some of the anxiety that women feel. So you've already reduced -- possibly reduced your symptom burden just by talking about it. Psychotherapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy, which are two time-limited structured types of psychotherapy, could be very useful during pregnancy.
ANNOUNCER: For some women, medication may be the answer.
SHARI LUSSKIN, MD: The people who may need medications are the ones who have a prior history of depression that is medication-responsive. That's number one. The second group would be women who are really quite seriously ill where the unknown risks of taking medication may be outweighed by the known risks of leaving the illness untreated.
ANNOUNCER: It's important to check with a doctor before taking any medication. But Dr. Lusskin says women need to be aggressive about getting help.
SHARI LUSSKIN, MD: If you don't ask for help, for sure you're not going to get it. By the time it's imposed on you, you're seriously mentally ill. Ask for help early. Once you ask the question, "Do I have a psychiatric disorder? Can it be treated?" then you're in a position to make an educated decision about what treatment is best for you.
ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily.