Many women experience postpartum depression, but around 70% of women may also experience what’s known as prenatal depression. In addition, studies now show that prenatal depression in fathers can also impact the health of the mother.
Causes of Prenatal Depression
Prenatal depression is typically caused by the hormonal changes and discomforts that women experience during pregnancy. Complications to a pregnancy can also intensify emotions and lead to prenatal depression.
Other than the physical complications, other factors may also trigger prenatal depression, such as personal or family history of depression, fetal abnormalities, relationship difficulties, interpersonal problems, financial and occupational problems, lack of social support or loved ones, previous pregnancy loss, or substance abuse and dependency.
Symptoms of Prenatal Depression
While stress and anxiety are the most common features of depression, other typical symptoms to watch out for include:
- Trouble concentrating
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Difficulty in communicating
- Recurring restlessness
- Experiencing fatigue
- Being overly short-tempered
- Feeling hopeless and sad
- Excessive self-blame or guilt
- Preoccupied with negative thoughts including suicide
It is important to understand prenatal depression to properly diagnose and treat it in both mothers and fathers and minimize adverse effects on the offspring.
Left undiagnosed or untreated, prenatal depression can lead to adverse effects in both mother and child such as premature birth, pre-eclampsia, sleep disturbances for mother and baby, maternal-infant attachment effects, and the negative impact on a mother’s daily quality of life.
Seeking professional help
If symptoms persist in an expectant mother or father, then talk to your GP, gynaecologist, or someone you can trust. Your GP might suggest forms of help such as counselling or psychological therapy, or a course of antidepressants that are safe to take during pregnancy.
However, there are possible side effects of taking antidepressants to your baby’s development, including their fetal brain function. As a first-line treatment for depression, look into non-pharmacological interventions to treat your symptoms.
Preventing and Managing Symptoms of Prenatal Depression
Stress, anxiety and other symptoms of prenatal depression may feel hard to overcome, but there are also ways to improve the well-being of expectant parents. Wellness is about having a healthy mind, body and spirit and can help manage the stress and anxieties of pregnancy life.
It is important to remember that you need to take care not just of your health, but the baby in your womb as well.
Here are some health and wellness tips:
- It may seem hard to combat your anxiety and emotions, but keep eating a balanced diet to ensure your and your baby's health. Don't forget to drink you prenatal vitamins and your maternal milk as well.
- Encourage yourself to keep moving and exercise. Even walking and getting some sun can do wonders for your outlook for the day. Just remember to put on sunscreen when going outdoors.
- Try to relax and avoid stress. Build a ritual at night and wash away the day's worries by taking a warm shower. Here's a list of pregnancy-safe shampoo, and moisturizer for your evening skincare. If you are in your second trimester, you can have also have a massage using pregnancy-safe massage oils.
Prenatal depression is something that can happen when you are pregnant. Observe yourself or your partner for symptoms and seek professional help when they are already intervening with your ability to function in your daily life. Always talk to your gynaecologist to monitor your and your baby's health.
Original Publisher: theAsianparent