How Does Mindfulness Help With Depression In Pregnancy

July 05, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team

Did you know that pregnant women with case histories of major depression are likely to get depressed again during pregnancy and after their babies are born? Depression in pregnant women is quite common. A study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder found that when pregnant women practiced mindfulness techniques like breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation, they were able to avert the risk of a depression relapse.

What causes depression in pregnant women?

We have spoken about depression in pregnant women. But what causes depression in pregnant women? According to past research, there are around 30 percent of women who have struggled with depression relapse during pregnancy. A new study published in the journal Archives of Women’s Mental Health revealed that pregnant women with a case history of depression who participated in Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy had a recurrence rate of just 18 percent.

Sona Dimidjian, an associate professor in CU-Boulder’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and lead author of the study says, “It’s important for pregnant women who are at high risk of depression to have options for treatment and prevention. For some women, antidepressant medication is truly a lifesaver, but others want a non-pharmacological intervention. This program focuses on teaching women skills and practices that are designed to help them stay well and care for themselves and their babies during this important time of life.”

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy combines mindfulness practice with traditional cognitive behavioral therapy. This approach has been effective in preventing depression recurrence in the general population. But few studies have focused on the effect of mindfulness or cognitive behavioral therapies among pregnant women.

A recent study, funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, and conducted in collaboration with Sherryl Goodman, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta revealed that 49 women in Colorado and Georgia had at least one prior episode of major depression. The women enrolled in an eight-session class during their pregnancies. With the help of the class and by using home assignments, the women managed to develop mindfulness skills.

According to Sona Dimidjian, “Mindfulness is about how to pay attention to your own moment-to-moment experience in a way that is suffused with an openness, curiosity, gentleness, and kindness towards oneself.”

The standard mindfulness practices for pregnant women that were used in the class were tweaked for better results. The lessons were walking meditation exercises, and prenatal yoga that could be done while soothing the baby. Also, shorter practices were included that can be easily practiced even in the busy lives of new mothers. The lessons addressed worries which are common during pregnancy with a special focus on kindness for self and baby.

Symptoms of Depression in pregnant women

What are the symptoms of depression in pregnant women? This is something that is very important that we need to understand. The research team included CU-Boulder doctoral student Jennifer Felder; Amanda Brown of Emory University in Atlanta; and Robert Gallop of West Chester University in Pennsylvania. This team conducted a survey on women to look for symptoms of depression during their pregnancy and through six months postpartum.

Sona Dimidjian revealed that 86 percent of the women who began the courses completed the study and found the sessions valuable. The researchers were surprised by the number of pregnant women who displayed interest in participating in a mindfulness program even if they did not meet the eligibility criteria to participate in it.

Dimidjian said, “I was surprised by the level of interest, even among women who didn’t have a history of depression. Pregnant women know that the experience of having a child is going to change their lives, and they want to be ready.”

Dimidjian has created an online program of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy that can be used as a tool to address the demands of pregnant women and others to develop these skills.

To test the effectiveness of the online program, Dimidjian is recruiting adult women with a history of depression to participate in a new study. Even non-pregnant women can be a part of this initiative.


Help is here:

Toll-Free Mental Health Rehabilitation Helpline Kiran (1800-599-0019)

Name of the Organisation: The Yoga Institute

The Yoga Institute, the world’s oldest yoga center, was established in 1918. Their courses have transformed millions of lives and created more than 100000+ teachers worldwide. In 2018, The Yoga Institute received the Prime Minister’s Award for outstanding contribution to the promotion and development of Yoga by the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India. It has branches across the country.


Contact: Email: info@theyogai/

Telephone: +91-22-26110506, +91-22-26103568

Give us your feedback about topics on mental health you’d like us to cover or feedback on

Leave a Reply