Prenatal depression or any type of depression for that matter is no joke. It should be taken seriously. Good thing, though, as there are ways to help counter it. We are going to share some of these as you read on.
While pregnancy is supposedly one of the happiest times in a woman’s life, it is also a point in their lives when some women get anxious, afraid, doubtful, insecure, stressed, and worst, depressed. Depression, according to the American Pregnancy Association is a “mood disorder” affecting 1 in every 4 women at a certain point in their lifetime. That is why it is not surprising that even pregnant women go through this type of disorder.
Depression for a pregnant woman may strike before (prenatal depression), or after giving birth (post-partum depression). In fact, in a study conducted by The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), they found out that 14-23% of women are likely to struggle with symptoms of depression while they are pregnant.
Post-partum is a very common type of pregnancy-related case of depression. But how about prenatal depression? As the term suggests, it happens before a woman gives birth to her child. It may be caused by hormonal changes, changes in her body, changes in her life as a whole, plus dealing with pregnancy symptoms like nausea and fatigue. Needless to say, the expectations of people especially from family members to deliver a healthy baby. Sometimes, it becomes too much to take in for some women.
Indicators of Prenatal Depression
When a woman experiences the following signs for two or more weeks, then, she is likely suffering from prenatal depression:
– Under or oversleeping
– Lost interest in doing things she normally enjoys
– Consistently feeling sad
– Finds difficulty in concentrating
– Feeling anxious
– Feeling guilty or worthless
– Has recurring thoughts of suicide, death or hopelessness
– Changes in her eating habits
Causes of Prenatal Depression
There may be a lot of reasons that triggers depression for a pregnant woman. Below are some of the common reasons:
– Has undergone infertility treatments
– Going through relationship problems
– Has gone through infertility treatments
– Facing stressful life events
– There is a personal family history of depression
– Going through a complicated pregnancy
Risks of Prenatal Depression
Like any other type of depression, having one poses risk. For a pregnant woman, however, it does not only pose a threat to the mother, but also to the baby in her womb. When depression is not properly treated, it can lead to drinking, smoking, poor health, and suicidal behavior. All of these may cause a developmental problem to the baby, premature birth or low birth weight. It will also affect the baby’s emotional health. According to studies, babies born to depressed mothers are said to be less active, have a low attention span, and are more agitated.
Ways that Help Fight Prenatal Depression
For every problem, there is a solution. What’s even better is, knowing that there are ways to help fight the problem. Yes, there are things that we can do to help avoid prenatal or any other types of depression.
- FIND YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM. Pregnancy is a milestone in a woman’s life. Be reminded that as you go through a lot of changes in our lives and in your body, or maybe go through some complications of pregnancy, you are not the only person in the world going through it. There are a lot of mommy groups that you can join that will help you understand better this phase in your life. Know that you are not alone.
Also, you may seek support from your immediate family, your husband, your friends or anyone you trust. Be open about your emotion, about how you feel. That way, you won’t have to carry all the fears and worries alone.
- PAMPER YOURSELF. Aromatherapy in all forms can help those with prenatal depression. There are essential oils available on the market to lighten your mood. They actually influence certain areas of the brain such as our sleep center and appetite. Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways. Some drops of oil into your bathtub can give you a feeling of well-being and relaxation. There are also essential oil sprays that can be spritzed on your pillow at night that actually promote sleep. But of course, ask your OB gynecologist before dealing with oils as there are some of it that is not applicable for pregnant women.
Apart from oils, you may also go to your favorite spa. Get some prenatal massage, have your nails done or get a new haircut. You may also go to your favorite restaurant down the alley and go eat your favorite dish from there.
- EXERCISE. Yes, there are exercises that are specifically created for pregnant women. Find a coach to help you, and of course, seek your doctor’s permission first before doing anything.
Exercise benefits us in so many ways, especially outdoor exercise. But it doesn’t have to be outdoors alone. You may try doing it inside your home or a gym. You may also opt to enroll in a yoga class.
- GET MORE SUN. If exercise is too much for you, then why not go out to have some walk – provided you are not going through a very complicated pregnancy.
Try to get outside as much as possible during the day and take advantage of the sunlight. Dress warmly if it’s cold and go around midday when the sun is brightest. When inside, keep your curtains or blinds open and let the natural sunlight in. Don’t sit around in dimly lit rooms. Sit in bright lights as well.
- GO ON VACATION. Taking a vacation in winter will give you a much-needed break from it all. Try to visit a warmer climate and take advantage of relaxing. Such feelings can actually last for weeks after you return home.
So, depends on the weather, you may opt to go to the beach, visit a relative in another state or visit a country you have been wanting to explore. A little reminder though, if you need to travel far or by air, make sure you have your doctor’s clearance first.
You know, sometimes we just need a change of scenery to be able to reenergize, to keep going and be able to release the negativities in our minds.
- BE PROACTIVE. Keep busy with dinner out with friends and other fun activities that allow you to interact with others. Even have friends over to your house and entertain them. Try not to isolate yourself as this will make your symptoms worse.
If meeting up with friends seem impossible, then go chat with them over social media, do Facetime or call them over the phone.
You may also want to join mommy groups on Facebook for sharing of thoughts and experiences on pregnancy and parenting.
- GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. We tend to beat ourselves up during emotional times in our lives. Try to remember that you’re not the only one who suffers from prenatal depression. It’s very easy to let our emotions bring us down. We dwell on things and focus more on the negative. Also, realize that it’s only temporary and this will pass too.
- DO THINGS THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY. Do you consider shopping as retail therapy? Get yourself some new clothes or accessories to freshen your wardrobe – especially since as the months go by, your tummy gets bigger. Buy essential things and look forward to showing them off.
Oh! Don’t forget to buy baby stuff too! Start looking for cute onesies, mittens, gloves, and all other baby stuff. Trust me, you will have fun buying baby things.
- KEEP YOURSELF OCCUPIED. Working on doing what you love can keep you occupied and free your mind of other worrisome distractions. If you are working, do your work as always. If not, then maybe you come up with a list of daily activities to keep your mind running so you do not have time to entertain negative thoughts.
Do family errands. Go to the groceries. Meet a friend. Work on a project. Oh! Start building your baby’s nursery room! Check Pinterest for design inspiration. You may also start searching for baby names! Oh what an exciting time you have.
Do not let depression get the best out of you and out of this wonderful moment you are at. Who knows, you only have this for once. Yeah, not all women get the chance to get pregnant for a couple of times. Some women, no matter how much they would love to, could not be pregnant.
Imagine how wonderful the life ahead is with that little human inside you. You are one blessed woman.
Always keep the positivity in you. After all, you are not alone in this journey. There are a lot of other women who is going through the very same things as you. So, hang in there. You can do it, woman!