Pregnancy: Can pregnancy cure depression?

I am 42 and five months pregnant with my third child. I have been dependent on antidepressants for the last four years. I am "a crazy person" when not taking them -- except when pregnant! Can pregnancy "cure" depression?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Most true depressive illness is not "cured" by pregnancy. This illness sounds like it is based on a hormonal imbalance, or is related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

As progesterone is the dominant hormone of pregnancy, maybe you would benefit from taking progesterone when not pregnant. Perhaps it takes an extra stimulus for you to reap the benefits, which do not occur naturally unless you are pregnant.

Also, high levels of estrogen cause a diminished secretion of progesterone. There could be something in your diet or environment that is supplying an overabundance of estrogen.

In addition, I recommend breastfeeding for as long as you feel it is possible as this, too, would limit estrogen.

Although studies have not confirmed that progesterone is helpful for PMS, I've known some women who feel they cannot get along without it, especially from ovulation to the start of the menses. There is a new micronized type of progesterone on the market; up until now, progesterone had to be given by injection or in vaginal suppositories.

You might want to seek the services of an experienced endocrinologist after the baby arrives. He or she could investigate possible causes for the improvement in your condition during pregnancy. Your prolactin level, as well as thyroid studies, may also help provide valuable clues.

I wish you the best and hope you can solve the mystery.

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