Worldwide there are 250 babies born every minute. For many expecting mothers, pregnancy is a time for excitement and joy. Unfortunately for others, depression and anxiety in pregnancy can be common feelings.
What exactly is prenatal depression and anxiety? How do you know if you have it? What practical steps can you take to feel better?
Prenatal Depression: How Common is It?
If you’re struggling with pregnancy sadness or emotional outbursts, you’re not alone.
An article published by the New York Times estimates that 1 in 5 women will have mental health issues during or after their pregnancy.
In the past, doctors thought that antenatal hormones acted as natural antidepressants, preventing women from feeling depressed. However, new research suggests that 7 in 10 women will experience some symptoms of depression during those nine months.
Signs of Depression and Anxiety in Pregnancy
It’s probably reassuring to know that you’re not alone in how you feel, but how can you know for sure if you’re experiencing prenatal depression?
As an example, it’s normal during pregnancy to experience changes in sleep, appetite, and libido. These are common signs of clinical depression too.
So how can you tell the difference? Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Very low self-esteem
- Drastic or frequent mood swings
- Excessive worrying and anxiety about your baby
- Unfounded feelings of inadequacy about becoming a mother
- Little to no interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Indifference to reassurance from friends or family members
- Limited adherence to recommended prenatal care
- Poor weight gains due to reduced appetite
- Suicidal thoughts or feelings
These symptoms are most common during the first and third trimesters, but they can occur at any point during your pregnancy.
Who’s Most Likely to Have Prenatal Depression?
Even if you’ve never been depressed before, the hormonal changes occurring in your body can wreak havoc on your emotions.
You might also be at a higher risk for developing depression during pregnancy if any of these apply to you:
- Personal history of anxiety disorders
- Family history of depression or anxiety
- Especially high stress levels
- Little or no social support
- Unplanned or unwanted pregnancy
- History of or current intimate partner violence
You might feel reluctant to talk about your feelings with your doctor. It’s true that medical providers usually place more importance on your physical health during pregnancy rather than your mental health.
However, if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms we discussed here, don’t keep it to yourself. Now is the time to reach out and get the support you need.
Pregnancy Sadness? Help is Available
We all experience major life events differently, and pregnancy is no exception.
Depression and anxiety in pregnancy are more common than most people realize, but there can be light at the end of the tunnel.
Many women have found that speaking to a counselor to be helpful in dealing with your emotions. Licensed professionals are here to help you understand your symptoms and regain control of your feelings.