I am Hina; and I am a highly personalized writer. I like to put a lot of my emotions, experiences and opinions into what I write.
What is Antenatal Depression?
Seeing two pink lines on a pregnancy testing strip is surely an over joyous moment-like a dream turning to reality especially to someone for whom it is a first-time experience. Pregnancy itself places a remarkable strain on mother’s body and the interplay of various feminine hormones can put a woman on the roller coaster of emotions. But when the common pregnancy traits (mood swings, irritability, alterations in eating habits and sleep patterns etc.) become more severe; that is when it is clinically termed as antenatal depression also known as perinatal depression.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Poor cognitive functioning
- Severe irritability
- Overwhelming feeling of sadness
- Inability to feel connected with the developing baby
- Lack of interest in sex
- Desire to over eat or not eating at all
- Lack of self confidence
- Feeling of worthlessness or guilt
However, some women might fall into a state of depression without feeling any of these symptoms. It is always important to discuss your feelings with your health professional for best evaluation, diagnosis and treatment. Remember you do not have to bear all this on your own and remember that help is only one step ahead!
What causes it?
The psychological adjustment of new mothers nurturing their first baby is rather more challenging as they adapt to abrupt physical and emotional changes. Therefore, pregnant women are more vulnerable to depression. Some risk factors for depression include;
- Unintended or unplanned pregnancy
- Teenage pregnancy
- A family history of depression
- Inadequate social and moral support from family and friends
- Experiencing domestic abuse or violence
- Any previous reproductive loss (miscarriage etc.)
What should I do?
Pregnancy is generally regarded as a period of joy. But depressed women often find themselves fighting with the guilt at feeling low when everyone wants them to be in their pinks. Here, the point to keep in mind is that depression is not something you have a control over.
The best thing you can do is to divert all your focus to the well-being of yourself and your precious baby. List down all the feelings and discuss with your mid-wife or doctor. Feel free to share your thoughts with your spouse or anyone who can counsel you in the best possible way and also remember to make time for yourself an do things you enjoy to do.
For me, fighting the depression was a later thing, the acknowledgement of it was the primary front which I had to conquer. I found myself tongue tied even in front of my own husband, family and friends and the feeling of guilt and shame was another overwhelming fear. It was then when I decided to talk to my gynecologist about my deteriorating mental state.
For me the counselling sessions proved a lot beneficial and I didn't have to consume any oral medication. The counselor took my husband into confidence and even guided him how he can play a vital role in easing my symptoms of depression.
There are a number of treatment options available to help you cope up with your symptoms of depression. Your health provider will look up the symptoms closely and suggest you the treatment plan that suits you the most according to your gestational age and severity. All you have to do is to trust your doctor and follow the guidelines properly.
Here are a few of the possible treatment plans:
1. Psychological Therapy:
Psychological therapy for antenatal depression specifically aims to encourage the mother to share her feelings in her own words. This therapy includes the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and the Interpersonal Therapy (IPT). This therapy effectively helps the mother to mange her feelings of anxiety or depression.
The health care provider manages to get a Medicare rebate with a mental health professional who sets up the counselling sessions.
2. Exercise Therapy:
Another non-pharmacological therapy includes exercises that help with both antenatal and postnatal depression.
A few of these exercises include:
- Aerobic exercises
This treatment certainly involves some anti-depressants that are of course safe to consume during pregnancy and lactation. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or tricyclic anti-depressants (TCAs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) do have some rare risks associated with them. But they are generally considered safe in pregnancy.
For some women medications together with counselling sessions are more fruitful to ease the symptoms of depression.
You are not Alone!
We sometimes associate a lot of hopes being new parents, but remember we cannot meet all these expectations. It is not therefore necessary to beat up ourselves and push ourselves beyond the limits if the things don’t turn out the way they are planned. So, be kind to yourself, seek help to turn your blues into pinks and enjoy your journey of motherhood!
- Mayo Clinic - Mayo Clinic
Seamless care that revolves around you: more than 4,700 physicians and scientists collaborate across Mayo Clinic campuses in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota. U.S. News & World Report ranks Mayo Clinic as the #1 hospital overall and #1 in more spec
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© 2021 Hina Waqar