Pregnancy is a rollercoaster for women. Most women experience ups and downs during their pregnancy. Their moods, cravings, emotions are all over the place. But when these emotions get in the way of their daily lives, it is a red flag for prenatal depression.
What is Prenatal Depression?
The relationship between a mother and her foetus is the most overwhelming one. It causes physiological, hormonal and emotional changes. These changes may result in distress and mental changes leading up to depression.
Prenatal depression is experienced by more than one in ten women. Inspite of being this common, prenatal depression is often ignored and goes unaddressed. Often mistaken as the usual “blues” and fail to realize that if these feelings of blue persist for more than a few days, it turns into depression.
Symptoms of Prenatal Depression
Some of the symptoms of prenatal depression are those of mild depression, such as:
- Mood swings
- Feeling of worthlessness
- Insomnia or Hypersomnia
- Loss of appetite or Binge eating
- Lack of motivation
- Loss of interest
- Suicidal ideation
But there are certain symptoms that are specific to prenatal stage, such as
- Headache, body ache, pains that are different from the usual morning sickness
- Withdrawal from spouse and family
- Frequent, prolonged crying spells
- Ignorance towards their own and baby’s growth
- Uninterested in things related to the baby
- Thoughts of ending the pregnancy
- Thoughts of self-harm which affect the baby
The continuation of the above symptoms for more than two weeks requires a consultation with a mental health professional.
There are certain external risk factors that instigate the onset of depression in the woman, such as:
- Pre-existing anxiety
- History of depression
- Family history of mood disorders
- Unintended pregnancy
- Poor social support
- Domestic violence
- Other emotional trauma faced during the pregnancy
The standardized treatment for prenatal depression includes psychotherapy and medication for moderate and severe cases.
The therapy usually includes cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and counselling. The use of any other therapy is decided by the mental health professional depending on the requirement of the case.
Moderate and severe prenatal depression require medication along with the psychotherapy. Medication includes antidepressants. These medications may affect the development of the baby. The complications of it are explained by the healthcare professional and the mental health professional.
Actively following the treatment is eventually the mother’s choice.
There are certain things a woman can do to keep her depression in check. They can aid the healing process. Which are:
- Share with someone trustworthy
- Recognize the genuine people and build your support system
- Eat well despite of lack of appetite
- Ask for help whenever required
- Don’t be hard on yourself, give yourself time to relax
- Talk to other mothers about their experiences
- Stay active
- Share the smallest of changes with your consultants
- Believe that you can overcome it
It is essential to address and treat prenatal depression. If not, it can aggravate and lead to postpartum depression and affect the baby’s emotional health as well. Women tend to ignore the baby’s requirements during prenatal depression which leads to lack of nutrients of other developmental issues in the baby during pregnancy and post birth.
Therefore, to ensure a healthy life for the mother and child, treating depression is a must.
Read more :
Postpartum Depression and Its Long Term Effects on Children
The Other Side of Motherhood: Postpartum Depression (PDD)
Postpartum Depression: Symptoms, Causes, Risks and Types