Many have heard of postpartum depression, the depression that follows the first few months after a baby is born. However, few know about prenatal depression. This kind of depression occurs during the pregnancy itself. Also called perinatal depression, this condition may be unpleasant for mothers, but there are ways to treat it. Here’s everything you need to know about prenatal depression.
There’s a common myth that pregnancy is the happiest time of a woman’s life. While the idea of growing a baby can be amazing and incredible, the actual biological process can cause havoc on a mother’s hormonal system. Hormonal imbalances are common. With them, a mother can experience a slew of mood problems, including depression.
The major cause behind prenatal depression is a hormone imbalance. When the baby is growing, it causes the hormones to be influx. A woman may wake up to find that the hormones that induce good and happy feelings weren’t produced during the night. Or, at least, not to the degree that makes her feel happy and comfortable.
There are several symptoms of prenatal depression. Here are a few that you may experience.
1. Frequent Crying
Prenatal depression may make you cry more often. Whether you’re feeling depressed or just suddenly have a turn in your mood, you may find that you weep more often and more easily. Anything can seemingly set you off.
2. Trouble Sleeping
Most pregnant women already have difficulty sleeping. This may be due to needing to urinate frequently in the night. Prenatal depression also involves trouble falling and staying asleep. Instead of needing to use the bathroom, however, it’s due to your hormones.
A common symptom of general depression is insomnia. This is likely because of the hormones involved in happiness and feeling tired. Prenatal depression is no different. If you find it difficult to fall and stay asleep, then it may be due to depression.
3. Fatigue or Low Energy
Along with not being able to sleep, you may experience a sense of low energy or fatigue. This isn’t always because you didn’t sleep well the night before either. Even after a night of good sleep, you may wake up and still feel exhausted. This is a sign of prenatal depression.
Hormones that make you feel happy and comfortable can also make you feel energetic. Without a healthy supply of them, you may feel lethargic and tired, instead.
4. Changes in Appetite
When you’re pregnant, you tend to eat a lot. You have to consume a lot more calories than you’re used to because of the baby. Yet when you have prenatal depression, you can experience a change in your appetite. You may eat far more than you need to or you may eat far less.
These fluctuations could have harmful effects on the baby, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re eating the correct amount of calories each day.
5. Loss of Enjoyment of Pleasurable Activities
Perhaps you used to love to paint or go walking or spend time with friends. Maybe you don’t enjoy doing those things anymore. You may find that you are more withdrawn. Perhaps you don’t want to do anything but stay on the sofa. These are all signs of prenatal depression. The things that once gave you joy, may no longer do so.
6. Increased Anxiety
The other half of depression is anxiety. You may not even understand why you’re anxious. Yet certain scenarios or situations may make you feel as though you’re close to having a panic attack. Perhaps you even wake up at night feeling anxious for no reason.
If you experience anxiety alongside these other symptoms, then it could be due to prenatal depression.
7. Poor Fetal Attachment
One final symptom and sign that you may have prenatal depression is if you feel as though you’re unable to connect with your baby. Called poor fetal attachment, this is a situation in which the mother doesn’t bond emotionally with the baby growing inside of her. While this can be worrying for many mothers, their worries are usually forgotten when the baby is born and placed in their arms.
Emotional attachments sometimes come later. However, it could be a sign that you are suffering from prenatal depression.
There are some medications that you can take to help. Prenatal depression is treated the same as general depression. Medications can help correct your hormone imbalance.
Talk therapy is another great resource. Speaking to someone can be a release that you need. They can also help correct and train your thoughts into healthier and positive thoughts.
Prenatal depression can happen to any woman. If you exhibit any of the symptoms listed above, treatment is possible with proper medication and talk therapy. You don’t have to suffer alone through your pregnancy.