Pregnancy is a time when there is a lot of hormonal activity going on. While many women may be glowing with happiness, for some, it can be a time of intense, negative emotions- called postpartum depression. It is often difficult to differentiate between hormonal imbalances and signs of depression. We, at KIMS Cuddles, help you to understand depression, during and after pregnancy.
Prepartum or Prenatal Depression
Although postpartum depression is widely recognized and discussed, many women experience symptoms of depression during pregnancy. This is known as Prepartum or Prenatal depression. According to a study, almost 70% of women have experienced one or more symptoms of prenatal depression.
Diagnosis of this kind of depression is difficult because their symptoms are similar to that of a normal pregnancy. But when left untreated, depression can be harmful to both mother and the fetus. If you’ve been feeling three or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, talk to your doctor for treatment options:
- Feeling a sense of guilt, worthlessness or hopelessness.
- Constant fatigue or being low on energy
- Inability to concentrate
- Lack of interest in activities that you usually enjoy
- Trouble sleeping or feeling sleepy all the time
- Change in eating habits
- Change in weight (weight gain or weight loss)
- Recurring thoughts about death or suicide
When left untreated, depressed mothers have a higher risk of birth complications and premature birth, and their babies may face lower birth weights, cognitive and language delays and other behavioral problems. It is important to seek help immediately. Your doctor may recommend treatments that may include:
- Psychotherapy – Your doctor might refer you to a trained mental health professional. Regular sessions of psychotherapy have been found to be effective in managing depression.
- Local support groups – Some places have local support groups that help in the process of recovery. You can check online to find similar groups around you.
- Medications – If you need to be put on antidepressants, there needs to be collaboration between your gynecologist and your mental health professional. Many antidepressants aren’t recommended during pregnancy, but your doctors may be able to prescribe what is suitable for you.
- Exercise and Balanced Diet – Regular exercising and wholesome diet can boost your mental health.
It is said that between 40-80% of all new mothers experience baby blues. It is an emotional state of unhappiness, worry, self-doubt and fatigue, which may be caused due to hormonal changes as well. Baby blues typically go away within a week or two. If the emotions feel more intense and you feel incapacitated even after two weeks, it might be Postpartum Depression.
It is difficult to differentiate between clinical depression and normal stress of new parenthood. Studies indicate that at least 10% of all new mothers are affected by postpartum depression. The symptoms may include:
- Feeling extreme sadness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Feeling angry or irritable
- Crying all the time
- Trouble falling asleep or staying awake
- Loss of enjoyment in regular activity
- Restlessness or sluggishness
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Difficulty in concentration or making decisions
- Feeling that life isn’t worth living
- Avoiding family and friends
- Worrying obsessively about your baby
In rare cases, women with postpartum depression may get delusional and even harm their babies. This is known as postpartum psychosis.
Women who are feeling suicidal or have constant thoughts of hurting their baby, need urgent medical attention. Postpartum depression may range from mild to severe. Depending on the severity, your doctor may suggest appropriate line of treatment, which is similar to the treatment for prepartum depression, as discussed above. However, some women with severe depression may not respond well to psychotherapy, support groups or medication. In such cases, doctors might suggest electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
If you’re feeling depressed or anxious, know that you’re not alone – and that several women around the world have faced it. Our doctors at KIMS Cuddles will do everything in their capacity to help you deal with prenatal and postpartum depression.
*The opinions expressed in this article are not to be substituted for medical advice under any circumstance