As much as postnatal depression is a common and often discussed topic, rarely do we hear about the term “antenatal depression”. It is important to highlight that antenatal depression is a psychological problem that occurs during pregnancy. There’s no denying that every woman has a unique pregnancy experience.
And just a pregnant woman has different physical changes and reactions to external and internal stimuli, she also has internal changes and psychological changes that occur as a result of surging hormones and in some cases, a pre-existing anxiety or depression issue. These pre-existing issues can change the landscape of what a healthy pregnancy is.
Similarly, every woman undergoes unique emotional changes. In some cases, sensuality and mood swings are replaced with constant fatigue, anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide. For those who haven’t already guessed, these are just one of the few symptoms of antenatal depression.
About 10 percent of pregnant women suffer from this type of depression, which, by the way, isn’t as rare as most people would like to believe--women who are aware of this problem are either seeking treatment, or are suffering alone. Several studies have been conducted on this medical phenomenon.
It’s important to note that studies, which included about 14,000 pregnant women, have shown that they were more likely to face depression after 32 weeks of pregnancy than after they have given birth to a baby. Having such facts in mind, let’s not hesitate and try to find easy ways to recognize and deal with the phenomenon called antenatal depression.
15 Expectations vs. Reality
It is common knowledge that pregnancy is an extremely emotional period for the woman involved. As a woman is about to give birth to a new human being, she is usually expected to be excited, both by the people she is close to and by society as well. Hence, the woman expecting a baby puts pressure on herself if she’s not feeling all happy and full of anticipation.
With the absence of the expected emotions, some women start to think, "What's wrong with me?" Truthfully, the answer is nothing, they're allowed to feel scared or whatever other feeling they might have about what is happening to them, no one can tell them how to feel about what's going on with their body or mind.
The fact is that a pregnant woman may become anxious from all the doubts that come to mind while pregnancy, for example: Am I going to be a good parent? What if I give a birth to a child who suffers from serious disease? Thus, the fact that doctors do the regular screening in order to check the health and the physical condition of both the woman and the baby is not enough.
The people who surround a pregnant woman, not only the doctors but especially the ones who are close to her like family members and friends, should make sure to ask her whether she is feeling all right or somewhat concerned about becoming a mother. That will help in dealing with antenatal depression.
14 Find Out More Information
Humans as a species are undoubtedly frightened by the unknown. So, if one’s going through one’s first pregnancy or one has noticed some issues that didn’t occur during one’s previous pregnancy, make sure that you inform yourself about them. That is the best way to understand what is happening in one’s body, and what can be done about it. And there are many ways to get information today.
Ask a specialist about what one can expect and how to deal with the symptoms that you’re facing. If going to a specialist is too expensive, then go ahead and search the internet for the symptoms of antenatal depression. But be careful. The internet is often full of contradictory information, which ends up confusing people more than answering their initial questions.
So, what is it that one can do to deal with antenatal depression?
13 Stay Fit
Let us begin this point by saying that yes, all of us are aware of the beauty standards imposed on us by the contemporary society. Yes, a woman is always supposed to be in shape and to look attractive. But, what to do during pregnancy, when every woman, not account on her lifestyle, must gain some extra weight? And being anxious about a matter such as being overweight definitely doesn’t seem trivial in our society.
A pregnant woman is likely to feel uncomfortable in her body that has undergone changes, which may cause depression. The solution for the problem is to stay fit. Do the exercises adjusted to one’s capacity.
It would be best if one enrolled in a specialized training program for pregnant women. Physical activity has consistently proved to release from stress. It will also help overcome (or at least fight) antenatal depression.
12 A Healthy Diet Always Helps
In addition to keeping one’s body fit, one should also maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy. It is a common notion that women have an insatiable desire for food while pregnant and that for some of the weirdest items imaginable (a lot of them inedible!). But that might not always be the case--at least with everybody.
Yes, while pregnant women are encouraged to “eat for two” the truth is that they only need 300 additional calories for the baby. Anything beyond that is going to lead to an unhealthy weight gain, not to mention related medical problems.
And this may sound unexpected, but some women have a lack of appetite while pregnant. Either way, one shouldn’t hesitate to address one’s GP and ask for advice on how to properly nourish one’s body while pregnant. It will help one feel better and have more energy. And energy is always needed to overcome depression.
11 Do I Have Anxiety?
Did you know that women who already suffer from depression or anxiety are at greater risk of antenatal depression? But, even if one has never had problems with depression or startling mood swings, one might notice having symptoms that are usually related to (or similar to) anxiety.
For example, one might not be very eager to leave one’s house, or not in the mood to handle social situations. Sometimes, these symptoms can be confused with anxiety and can easily be misdiagnosed, which is why knowledge is power.
These symptoms might also indicate antenatal depression. In such situations, the best solution will be to ask a specialist for help because then you can be certain of what the problem with you really is.
10 The Constant Fatigue Is A Sign
Fatigue or the constant feeling of feeling tired and not eager to leave one’s bed may as well indicate antenatal depression. Of course, it’s not meant to be confused with laziness, something that every human on the planet is guilty of. No. But if you regularly feel exhausted, then it’s time to sit down and take notice, for there may be an underlying issue with you.
If you have been diagnosed with the early stages of antenatal depression, don’t worry. There are various ways to deal with it if it still hasn’t developed fully. And don’t think for a second that it’s a rare condition--1 in 8 pregnant women suffers from it. A woman is more likely to have antenatal depression during the period of her pregnancy than after the birth of the baby.
Needless to say, treatment becomes imperative in such cases, especially since this condition can prove to be extremely serious. There have been cases documented where women have stopped taking care of themselves and even became suicidal.
9 Careful With Antidepressants During Pregnancy
Just as untreated antenatal depression can lead to future health problems for both the mother and the baby, so can unsuitable therapy and taking antidepressants. First of all, one needs to know that these meds do not work magically. They often take a month before their effects kick in, and even so, there’s no guarantee that they will work.
Only 60 percent of people who took antidepressants said that they worked on them. Not to mention the several side effects these meds have, which range from nausea to sexual problems. Fifty percent of people who take these meds experience one side effect or the other.
Recent studies, such as the one published in Archives of General Psychiatry, show that the intake of antidepressants during pregnancy may lead to a reduced head growth of the baby and or to a preterm. In order to avoid such health issues, one should ask one’s GP, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist for help if going through antenatal depression before deciding to use antidepressants.
8 Try Meditation
Pregnancy is an unpredictable period that brings up a rush of feelings and thoughts in one’s mind. And, of course, most of the times they end up overwhelming a woman. Thus, one may end up feeling nervous, anxious, and stressed out or one may struggle with insomnia. How can one help oneself calm down?
This might sound like a no-brainer, but it still needs to be said. Meditation may be the solution to one’s problems.
To regain one’s sense of tranquility, try to relax at a snug spot in one’s home with some calming music. Put on some calm music, draw the curtains, draw out every noise and meditate. If that is not possible, then try something easier--try to imagine one’s future family and the newborn.
If one prefers having professional assistance (which is highly recommended), try visiting a yoga class nearby.
7 Acupuncture Might Be What You Need
As artificial medical supplements such as antidepressants may be harmful to one’s health and the health of the baby, trying some alternative methods may be the solution to one’s problems. For those of you who don’t know, in acupuncture, very, very thin needles are inserted into specific points of the body to relieve pain.
When needled, these points are able to properly regulate one’s body functions and give one physical and emotional release as well. Acupuncture has many uses, it can relieve joint and muscle pain as well as headaches, and in the later stages of pregnancy, even start labor.
An increasing number of specialists have started advising non-traditional methods to cope with antenatal, and acupuncture is the newest method to join the list. A 2013 study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine has spoken favorably of acupuncture and its ability to reduce symptoms associated with antenatal depression.
6 The Power of Communication
Ever noticed that almost whatever psychological issue may be at stake, both specialists and non-specialists recommend communication as the ultimate way to help people identify their problem? That can include talking to friends, family, strangers or even professionals. The same advice applies to potential victims of antenatal depression.
Talking out loud about the problems in your life is a release to the pressure valve inside your head. As emotional and psychological turmoil threatens to unbalance your mental stability, talking about the problems you face, the anxieties you deal with and the depression you feel validates your feelings and releases the mental pressure resulting in less stress.
If a woman is feeling uneasy, constantly anxious, and terribly concerned about becoming a mother, maybe she should try sharing her feelings with people. Just make sure these are people who can be trusted with your innermost thoughts. A relaxing conversation with one’s partner or a friend might be exactly what one needs! It may not get you completely out of depression, but it certainly is a step forward.
5 Write Down Any Thoughts
For a lot of women, especially the shy ones, communication isn’t their strong suit, especially if they are prone to anxiety attacks simply by thinking about having to face even a small gathering of people. But don’t worry! Paper, sometimes, appears as an ultimate listener and a silent counselor. Therefore, writing down one’s concerns and problems down may be the best solution.
Keeping a journal or diary can help in naming the issues you're facing as well as give you the release that you need. Sometimes by writing what you're feeling you can more deeply explore what you're feeling and why as you write, which results in deep inner reflection and understanding of what the problem is and why you feel the way you do.
Later on, if comfortable, one can decide to show that paper to a specialist to analyze it and help one solve one’s problem. Simply writing about one’s feelings might bring one a great sense of relief. And guess what? This writing doesn’t have to be physical. One can create one’s own blog and jot down every thought that wanders into their minds!
4 Be A Part Of A Support Group
It is said that women who already suffer from depression or anxiety are more likely to be affected by antenatal depression. If any of us happen to be suffering, maybe the best solution will be to find a support group near to one’s home for assistance in dealing with potential antenatal depression.
The biggest advantage that such groups have is that they share everything from the sufferer’s perspective, and not from the perspective of a professional or a caring friend (who has no idea what’s going on in a depressed person’s mind).
As these people are already familiar with the mental trauma that is associated with antenatal depression, they can often be the best help that one can get. Their first-hand experiences of facing and dealing with problems will help provide others with the help they need.
3 Try Herbal Remedies
With an increasing number of people shunning chemicals in search for more herbal and organic options, it’s no wonder that doctors too have begun encouraging pregnant women to avoid putting unnecessary chemicals into their bodies. Especially if they happen to be allergic to them. So, if one isn’t eager to try a medical answer to their problems, one can choose alternative medicine.
Knowledge, research and studies on the effectiveness of herbs on the human body are on the rise, and for those who think it’s all ‘superstition’, well, it really isn’t.
If one decides to opt for herbal remedies, make sure to consult a GP as well as an herbalist about the type and dosage one should take. A lot of anti-depressants or other drugs cannot be used alongside herbs, which is why it’s extremely important to get the dosage evaluated in pregnant women.
2 Accept Oneself And One’s New Condition
The root of a lot of psychological problems can be found rooted in a person not being ready to accept what they are going through. In the case of pregnancies, it becomes difficult for a lot of people to understand why a woman would be depressed.
She’s about to become a mom, right? What could be happier for her than to give birth to her own child? But when it’s actually happening, it all seems like a disaster to the pregnant lady who is constantly crying on the floor, exhausted and sad for absolutely no reason.
One of the worst symptoms of antenatal depression is to be constantly irritable. This results in pushing away people closest to us, but we must realize we don’t have to be ruled by our symptoms. They’re merely an extension of our condition and that we can (mostly) take control. Once one realizes this, everything else doesn’t seem as confusing and insurmountable as before.
1 Know That We Are In This Together
Remember that 1 in 8 pregnant women suffers from antenatal depression. What women need to know is that antenatal depression is completely normal when pregnancy is at stake! Do not think of oneself as a weak person. Do not think of oneself as a bad future parent. No. Negativity never helped anybody, and it certainly isn’t going to help a depressed pregnant woman.
What is going to help is communication. Try to talk about how one feels as much as one can and make people understand how one feel. And most importantly, never hesitate to ask for help. Several options have already been listed above. Pick one, two, or three. Heck, try them all! Search for what suits you best and then stick with it.
When one finds out one isn’t alone in their problem, they automatically gain confidence and are able to more easily face their problems.