Depression during Pregnancy. Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

The emotional swings during pregnancy are easy to explain by the changing hormonal levels. But what if getting into sadness, you have a hard time getting back to joy? What if you’ve lost interest in daily life and live in anxiety, irritability, and underestimation of everything you do for your baby, your family, and yourself? These are the worrying signs signaling you might be among expecting mothers who face prenatal depression.

We’ll try to explain the causes of such a medical condition. We’ll specify the symptoms that may give you a hint about your depression. And we’ll provide you with some effective methods of dealing with this disorder so that nothing can spoil the beautiful period of pregnancy for you.

Prenatal Depression in Detail. Are You at Risk?

Depression during pregnancy is referred to as a prenatal depression. Studies say that the prevalence of the disorder ranges from 4% to 25%. It’s also worth mentioning that this type of mental health disorder is more common in early and middle pregnancy. About 15.5% of women will feel its first symptoms within this period. Once you reach your third trimester, the chances that you’ll develop prenatal depression decrease to 11.1%.

By the way, postpartum depression, which is much more spoken about, affects only 8.7% of women who have given birth to a baby.

While the percentage of those who will eventually face this mental health problem is quite insignificant, some pregnant women are at a much higher risk due to the presence of some factors that promote the development of this condition. The risk factors for prenatal depression include:

  • a personal history of depressive disorders or depression in close family members;
  • any other mood disorder in medical history (i.e. bipolar disorder, OCD);
  • being pregnant with twins, triplets, etc.;
  • being pregnant with a baby that will require special care (i.e. Down Syndrome baby);
  • significant stressful situations during pregnancy;
  • long struggle with infertility;
  • a lack of support on the part of your partner or family.

How Can I Suspect Having Prenatal Depression?

Pregnancy is a time you have to take special care about your health, as this is the primary factor for your baby’s health. Carrying a baby is a huge responsibility, and some women may feel they are not strong enough (physically, emotionally, financially) to do their best for the baby. This burden, especially if left without attention on the part of the woman or her family,can grow into a huge problem that will require medicinal treatment.

Why do women experience prenatal depression? Reasons differ, but we’ve pointed out some most common:

  • they are not sure they’ll cope with the upcoming challenges of motherhood;
  • they are afraid to become bad mothers;
  • they blame themselves for their baby being ill;
  • they don’t feel confident about their financial state;
  • their pregnancy is unexpected and unwanted;
  • their partner left them after discovering about pregnancy, and so many more.

The symptoms of depression that should signal you have a serious problem include:

  • loss of interest in things you used to love;
  • the feeling of sadness that stays with you all the time;
  • the feeling of guilt and helplessness;
  • loos of appetite or eating even without the feeling of hunger;
  • insomnia or too much sleeping;
  • you get irritated easily;
  • you cry for no reason;
  • unstable mood;
  • alienation from your family and friends;
  • low libido, troubles in interpersonal relations with your partner.

These are only a tiny drop of symptoms depression includes. In fact, it may have many more manifestations. It’s essential to notice those changes in pregnant women as they may continue in the perinatal period. This becomes dangerous not only for the mother but also for her baby. Statistic says that 5 – 14% of women think about harming themselves. It is also considered that suicide is the leading cause of maternal death in the first year after giving birth to a child.

Treatment Options. What Can You Do to Get Well?

Untreated depression is as dangerous as any other medical condition. Therefore, once you notice any signs of prenatal depression, you should seek psychological and mental help. We’ve compiled some recommendations on how to get rid of the problem before your baby is born.
First and foremost, you need emotional support from your close ones. Tell your husband, partner, or other family members about the hardships you are dealing with. Explain that you need to feel they are there for you. If you don’t have such people, there are support groups where you will find people to take care of you and your emotional condition.

Treating depression may also involve some kind of therapy. Talk with your health care provider about the opportunity to go through talk therapy or interpersonal therapy. Either way,you’ll receive professional psychological help that will help you come to the point where you’ll feel free from depression.

Interpersonal therapy will help you look at your problem from the standpoint of your relations with other people. It may be more effective for those who feel a lack of support from their family and friends.

Talk therapy will work well for dealing with mood swings, anxiety, irritability, and other symptoms that may bother you. This kind of treatment is performed by professional psychologists who help you look at the core of the problem; find its cause. Once you know the reason for your depression, it’s much easier to find a solution to the issues that have brought you into this state.

If you feel on edge and see no options for getting out of this state, please, know that you are not alone. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, where there are people who can really help you. People who can listen to you. People who understand how you feel and willing to help and support you in every possible way. The lifeline works 24/7 without weekends.

Prenatal Depression – Final Words

Depression during pregnancy is often ignored and underestimated. Our society, somehow, thinks that pregnant women can’t feel depressed: they just have no reason for sadness. However, this is only a myth that goes from one generation to the other. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of women stay alone face to face with the severe symptoms of the disease. Some do find help and get out of depression. Others fail.

Hopefully, your knowledge about the problem and ways to deal with it will help you avoid or overcome prenatal depression fast and easily and come out the winner from this situation.

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