What is Prenatal Depression?
Pregnancy is certainly a time of hope, love, and joy. However, for many women, it can also be a time of prenatal depression. Prenatal depression is common and occurs more often than you might think.
It’s crucial not to ignore the signs and symptoms. Your life and the life of your baby may be at stake.
Learn more about prenatal depression:
Understanding prenatal depression. It’s estimated that one out of every eight women will experience depression. Prenatal depression occurs during pregnancy and can be triggered by many factors. Although some mothers are able to continue to take care of their bodies during depression, others struggle to eat healthy food or avoid alcohol and other harmful substances.
Common signs. Some of the most common symptoms are thoughts of death and suicide.
- The pregnant woman may have ongoing and recurring thoughts about killing herself or others. She may also have thoughts about harming the baby, the father, and even try to do something violent.
- Other signs of prenatal depression include never-ending feelings of sadness and hopelessness. The mother may also have anxiety and feel guilty.
Depression triggers. Some medical experts believe that hormone and body changes during pregnancy can trigger depression, but there are other causes as well.
- Relationship issues are also a common trigger, because the mother may feel she isn’t getting enough support. She may also worry about how the child will affect the relationship after the baby is born.
- Complications during pregnancy can also trigger depression. If the mother is on bed rest or worried about losing the baby, it’s easier for depression to start. The joy of carrying the child is replaced with anxiety, worry, and fear.
Treatment options. Treatment options vary, and it’s important to discuss them with your doctor.
- Women with prenatal depression can find help through therapy. Both individual and group therapy sessions may be necessary.
- Support groups have helped some women with prenatal depression.
- Reducing stress and eliminating issues that are causing anxiety can help.
- Adjustments to diet, exercise, and lifestyle may also help with depression.
- Women with prenatal depression may also benefit from some medications, but there are restrictions because drugs can affect the baby.
- The most important step is to seek help and not ignore the symptoms. Doctors and therapists can determine the best treatment plan on an individual level.
Prenatal depression is a real issue and shouldn’t be ignored. If you have the signs of prenatal depression, seek treatment right away. If you know someone else who shows signs, give her support and encourage her to seek treatment. She shouldn’t have to suffer alone and fight without help.
Here is a community action planning guide on maternal depression to help find support and treatment options.
Learn about prenatal depression today. You could save a life – or two.
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