What’s The Difference Between Antenatal Depression And Other Conditions
You might hear the terms antenatal, postnatal and perinatal depression and wonder what the difference is between them. Antenatal depression refers to depression that starts during pregnancy, while postnatal depression develops between 1 month to a year after birth.
As depression can occur anytime around pregnancy, you may also hear the term perinatal depression used to describe depression that happens before, during or after pregnancy and childbirth.
What Can I Do At Home To Feel Better While Seeing A Doctor For Postpartum Depression
Here are some ways to begin feeling better or getting more rest, in addition to talking to a health care professional:
- Rest as much as you can. Sleep when the baby is sleeping.
- Dont try to do too much or to do everything by yourself. Ask your partner, family, and friends for help.
- Make time to go out, visit friends, or spend time alone with your partner.
- Talk about your feelings with your partner, supportive family members, and friends.
- Talk with other mothers so that you can learn from their experiences.
- Join a support group. Ask your doctor or nurse about groups in your area.
- Dont make any major life changes right after giving birth. More major life changes in addition to a new baby can cause unneeded stress. Sometimes big changes cant be avoided. When that happens, try to arrange support and help in your new situation ahead of time.
It can also help to have a partner, a friend, or another caregiver who can help take care of the baby while you are depressed. If you are feeling depressed during pregnancy or after having a baby, dont suffer alone. Tell a loved one and call your doctor right away.
Why Is Depression And Anxiety So Prevalent For People With Infertility Struggles
It may not come as a surprise that a number of studies have found that the incidence of depression in infertile couples is significantly higher than in those that are not.
50% of people undergoing fertility treatment have called it the worst experience of their entire lives.
Studies also show that the emotional impact of an infertility diagnosis is the same as a diagnosis of cancer.
But why is infertility such a psychological burden? The answer is far more complex and subsconscious than you may think.
All through childhood and adolescence girls and women receive the message that it is important to have children of their own.
Little girls play with dolls and newborn dolls and are very accustomed to the identity of being a mother. Feeling unable to meet engrained societal and intergenerational expectations can be a difficult thing to bear.
Some researchers foundthat women who later in life face infertility challenges say they experienced feelings of incompetence, as well as loss of identity.
Sometimes this type of depression is camouflaged and may lead to the conscious and subconscious sabotage of your attempts at conceiving to limit the chance of disappointment.
For example, you may some women say they found themselves intentionally avoiding having intercource durning your fertile window to avoid the disappointment when your period starts.
For women, pregnancy and motherhood are part of the milestones that have been emphasized by cultures globally.
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Whats The Difference Between Baby Blues And Postpartum Depression
The baby blues is a mild form of postpartum depression that many new moms experience. It usually starts 1 to 3 days after the birth and can last for 10 days to a few weeks. With baby blues, many women have mood swingshappy one minute and crying the next. They may feel anxious, confused, or have trouble eating or sleeping. Up to 80% of new moms have the baby blues. Its common, and it will go away on its own.
About 13% of new mothers experience postpartum depression, which is more serious and lasts longer. You are at a greater risk if you have a family history of depression or have had depression before.
Some of the symptoms include:
- feeling like you cant care for your baby,
- extreme anxiety or panic attacks,
- trouble making decisions,
- hopelessness, and
- feeling out of control.
No one knows exactly what causes postpartum depression. If you think you have the symptoms, its important to get help right away. Postpartum depression needs to be treated. Talk to your doctor or call your local public health office.
What Is Antenatal Depression
Antenatal depression is when you feel sad all the time for weeks or months during your pregnancy. The condition can vary from mild to severe and can affect women in different ways.
Some women have depression after having a baby. This is called postnatal depression.
Pregnancy can be a very emotional experience and it can sometimes be difficult to know whether your feelings are manageable or a sign of something more serious. Pregnancy hormones can affect your emotions, you may also have difficulty sleeping and you may be feeling sick. This can all make you feel low.
Trust yourself. You are the best judge of whether your feelings are normal for you. Talk to your midwife or GP if you think you have any symptoms of depression and they last for more than two weeks.
Depression is a mental health condition and not a sign of weakness, something that will go away on its own or that you should just snap out of. Depression can be treated with the right care and support.
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What Feelings Can Happen
Mood swings are normal during pregnancy. But if you feel nervous or down all the time, it could be a sign of something deeper going on. Stress over being pregnant, changes in your body during the pregnancy, and everyday worries can take a toll.
Some pregnant women may have depression or anxiety:
- Depression is sadness or feeling down or irritable for weeks or months at a time. Some women may have depression before getting pregnant. But it also can start during pregnancy for a number of reasons for example, if a woman isn’t happy about being pregnant or is dealing with a lot of stress at work or at home.
- Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear over things that might happen. If you worry a lot anyway, many things can stress you out during pregnancy. You might worry that you won’t be a good mother or that you can’t afford to raise a baby.
Pregnant women may have other mental health issues, such as:
It’s important to treat mental health concerns during pregnancy. Mothers who are depressed, anxious, or have another issue might not get the medical care they need. They might not take care of themselves, or they may use drugs and alcohol during the pregnancy. All of these things can harm a growing baby.
If you have a mental health issue, talk with your doctor so you can get the help you need during and after your pregnancy.
Pregnancy Depression And Medication
Women with more severe depression during pregnancy may need anti-depressant medicine. It is never an easy decision to take medication when you are pregnant, but oftentimes it is the right thing to do because being depressed can impact both your and your babyshealth.
You and your doctor must weigh the risk of untreated depression while pregnant versus the concerns of medicine affecting the baby. For many women, pregnancy depression might be managed without a prescription. But, for others, drugs are necessary.
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Depression In Pregnant Women And Mothers: How It Affects You And Your Child
Depression is an illness that affects the way people think, act and feel. About 6% of women will experience depression at some point in their lives. This number increases to about 10% for women who are pregnant.
Women are more at risk of depression while they are pregnant, and during the weeks and months after having a baby. During pregnancy, hormone changes can affect brain chemicals and cause depression and anxiety. Sometimes, pregnant women dont realize they are depressed. They may think they have symptoms of pregnancy or the baby blues, which many women experience right after birth.
Its also important to know that as many as 10% of fathers experience postpartum depression after the birth of a child.
The good news is that depression can be treated. Read the signs listed below, and talk to your doctor if you have any of them. Let your partner and family members know the signs so that they can also be aware.
If you dont get help, depression can cause problems for you and your baby.
Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is a simple checklist that asks about your mental health. It can indicate whether youre experiencing symptoms that are common with depression and anxiety, and help you recognise when you need to seek support.
Find out more about the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale from Beyond Blue.
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Can Depression During Pregnancy Affect Your Baby
Some women dont seek treatment for their pregnancy depression out of embarrassment, shame or guilt, or simply because they think their depression symptoms are just normal pregnancy symptoms that will go away on their own.
Over time, these problems can snowball as your baby gets older. Babies and children of mothers who experienced depression during pregnancy are at greater risk for learning delays and emotional issues, including aggression.
Theres also the fact that depression may not end when your pregnancy does. Being depressed when youre pregnant also puts you at a higher risk of postpartum depression. In fact, research estimates that around a quarter of women with PPD first became depressed while they were pregnant.
So if you think theres any chance youre suffering from pregnancy depression, ask for help for yourself, but also because your baby needs a mother who’s healthy both physically and mentally.
It Felt Like A Light Turned Off In My Brain
Its unlikely that a woman who has experienced depression during her pregnancy will magically feel different once her baby is born. In fact, the feelings can continue to compound. When her son was born, Saremi says it quickly became clear to her that she was in an unsustainable situation when it came to her mental health.
Almost immediately after his birth while I was still in the delivery room it felt like all the lights turned off in my brain. I felt like I was fully enveloped in a dark cloud and I could see outside it, but nothing I saw made sense. I didnt feel connected to myself, much less my baby.
Saremi had to cancel newborn pictures because she says she couldnt stop crying, and when she got home, she was overwhelmed by scary, intrusive thoughts.
Afraid to be alone with her son or leave the house with him by herself, Saremi confesses she felt hopeless and despondent. According to Farkas, these feelings are common among women with perinatal depression and its important to normalize them by encouraging women to seek help. Many of them feel guilty for not feeling 100 percent happy during this time, Farkas says.
Many struggle with the tremendous change having a baby means and the responsibility of what it means to care for another human being who is fully dependent on them, she adds.
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How Common Is Prenatal Depression
Like postpartum depression, which impacts as many as 1 in 7 new moms, prenatal depression is actually quite common.
According to a journal article by Maria Muzik, MD, and Stefana Borovska, published in Mental Health in Family Medicine, 13% of pregnant moms experience depression.
As the authors note, perinatal depression is even more common among mothers facing adverse experiences, such as a history of depression or economic hardship.
The prevalence of perinatal depression is even higher in vulnerable groups with certain risk factors, the authors explain. Young, single mothers, experiencing complications, with a history of stress, loss or trauma are far more likely to succumb to depression. Furthermore, one study found that up to 51% of women who experience socioeconomic disadvantage also report depressive symptoms during pregnancy.
It’s important to note prenatal depression doesnt discriminate: You can experience it whether or not you have pre-existing risk factors. Always remember there is no shame in experiencing a serious bout of depression during pregnancy, and you are not alone.
Premature Birth And Low Birth Weight
Prenatal depression is associated with both premature birth and low birth weight. Of note, it is possible for a baby to be born at less than a healthy weight, even when born at full term. Premature births and low birth weight are two of the most common causes of neuro-cognitive deficits and developmental milestone delays in children.
Prenatal depression also increases the likelihood of pre-eclampsia, which is a condition characterized by dangerously high blood pressure in the third trimester.
While some studies looked at the illness of depression during pregnancy, some assessed the relationship between prenatal stress and fetal health. Experiencing external stressors while pregnant, such as an abusive relationship or socioeconomic deprivation, is shown to potentially be harmful to the unborn child. Prenatal stress can compromise uterine blood supply, which is the source of nutrients to the unborn child. This can potentially lead to restricted growth of a developing fetus.
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Icipating In Clinical Research
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.
Researchers at NIMH and around the country conduct many studies with patients and healthy volunteers. We have new and better treatment options today because of what clinical trials uncovered years ago. Be part of tomorrows medical breakthroughs. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you.
For more information about clinical research and how to find clinical trials being conducted around the country, visit NIMH’s clinical trials information webpage.
Be Open To All Possibilities For Your Life
Can you give up the idea that getting pregnant and having a baby will bring you peace and joy?
Help Dealing With I Cant Have a Baby Depression
My husband and I struggled to cope with infertility for years. It was only until I surrendered to the reality of our life together that I finally found peace and joy. For me, what works is believing that there is a reason my husband and I arent parents. God has our lives in His hands, and He knows what Hes doing.
If we give up the notion that everybodys life but ours is perfect, we would be a lot happier, says psychologist Joy Browne. Nobodys life is perfect.
Even if you did get pregnant right away, your life wouldnt be perfect. Whether or not we get the desires of our heart, there will always be warts, wrinkles and blemishes in our lives. Sometimes we think well be 100% happy if we could only have children, but thats not true. If you think you can only be happy and the only way to deal with depression is by getting pregnant, then you may find yourself disappointed again and again by your life.
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What Is Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum psychosis is rare. It happens in up to 4 new mothers out of every 1,000 births. It usually begins in the first 2 weeks after childbirth. It is a medical emergency. Women who have bipolar disorder or another mental health condition called schizoaffective disorder have a higher risk of postpartum psychosis. Symptoms may include:
- Seeing or hearing things that arent there
- Feeling confused most of the time
- Having rapid mood swings within several minutes
- Trying to hurt yourself or your baby
- Restlessness or agitation
- Behaving recklessly or in a way that is not normal for you
Taking Care Of Your Mental Health During Pregnancy
Pregnancy brings a mix of feelings, and not all of them are good. If you’re feeling worried, you’re not alone. Worry is common, especially during a woman’s first pregnancy or an unplanned one. It can be even harder if you’re dealing with depression or anxiety.
If you’re feeling worried, sad, or nervous, talk to someone about it and know when to reach out for help.
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What Causes Postpartum Depression
Hormonal changes may trigger symptoms of postpartum depression. When you are pregnant, levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone are the highest theyll ever be. In the first 24 hours after childbirth, hormone levels quickly drop back to normal, pre-pregnancy levels. Researchers think this sudden change in hormone levels may lead to depression.2 This is similar to hormone changes before a womans period but involves much more extreme swings in hormone levels.
Levels of thyroid hormones may also drop after giving birth. The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that helps regulate how your body uses and stores energy from food. Low levels of thyroid hormones can cause symptoms of depression. A simple blood test can tell whether this condition is causing your symptoms. If so, your doctor can prescribe thyroid medicine.
Other feelings may contribute to postpartum depression. Many new mothers say they feel:
- Tired after labor and delivery
- Tired from a lack of sleep or broken sleep
- Overwhelmed with a new baby
- Doubts about their ability to be a good mother
- Stress from changes in work and home routines
- An unrealistic need to be a perfect mom
- Grief about loss of who they were before having the baby
- Less attractive
- A lack of free time
These feelings are common among new mothers. But postpartum depression is a serious health condition and can be treated. Postpartum depression is not a regular or expected part of being a new mother.