You have just found out that you're pregnant, it's a joyous time, a time to celebrate. However, you're feeling anything but joyous. You're anxious, stressed, sad and worst of all, guilty for all these feelings. Prenatal depression is not the blues and it affects 10-15% of pregnant women.
Prenatal depression is just as common as postpartum depression, however not until recently was the medical community taking it seriously. Why is that? Because most professionals, believed that the antenatal hormones present during pregnancy, would ward off even previously clinically depressed patients from any bouts of serious depression. Since its discovery is fairly new, unfortunately, some doctors are still dismissing it as pregnancy symptoms. This is the reason that women are afraid, ashamed to speak up or are barely taken seriously by spouses, mothers, sisters and friends. However, there is some good news, you are not alone and you can get help once you know your symptoms.
Symptoms of prenatal depression are similar to other forms of depression and it's true that sometimes they minic first trimester symptoms from exhaustion to loss of appetite and change in sleep patterns but they also include:
You might feel at times that you are stuck in another person's body and are dying to get out. You can't understand why something that you had hoped for or anticipated has taken such a dire turn.
Unfortunately, some women are more likely to develop prenatal depression more than others, those are:
What can you do to help yourself?
- Speak up! Talk to your family, talk to your specialist and/or physician. No one knows how you feel inside but you. If you feel like you're being dismissed or are not being taken seriously talk to someone that will take you seriously.
- Get outside. Getting sunlight and exercise has been shown to increase serotonin levels (runner's high) which in turn can alleviate some of the feelings you are feeling.
- Exercise! Again as stated above, exercise is a great way to increase serotonin levels, and workouts such as yoga are not only good for delivery but they help to put the mind at ease. (Make sure you discuss with your physician before taking on any form of activity)
- Get help. Easier said than done, but consult with your doctor to see a specialist and perhaps think about medication that will be safe to use during pregnancy, if your symptoms are severe. The likelihood that depression might harm the fetus is far greater than a mild form of anti-depressant.
For more information on prenatal depression check out: