Pregnancy is supposed to be a joyous time, even with unpleasant symptoms. However sometimes if any serious pregnancy complication is being experienced, that can steal the joy and have a detrimental effect on the mom’s mental health. And, unfortunately, there are times when mom during pregnancy can fall into a serious depression which is referred to as antenatal depression. It is quite debilitating and needs treatment as soon as possible. There are many causes for antenatal depression that have nothing to do with experiencing pregnancy complications as it can clearly be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain that has always been there due to having a history of depression. Or even if the mom never experienced depression previously, then it would still be genetic due to having a family member with depression. That in itself would increase the chances of the mom developing antenatal depression.
The signs of antenatal depression to look out for are:
- Just feeling down
- Not having the energy to be bothered with anything
- Not enjoying life
- The inability to concentrate
- The inability to make decisions
- The need to withdraw
- Not wanting to be with others
- Feeling restless
- Extreme Agitation
- Feeling worthless
- Having no self-esteem and self-confidence
- Feelings of guilt
- Feeling suicidal
These symptoms may not all be experienced at the same time, or could all gradually come on. However, they are serious and will only escalate if they are not addressed. As it was already mentioned, experiencing a pregnancy complication and having a history of depression are risk factors. However, other factors can increase the chances as well such as:
- Having a pregnancy that was not planned
- Recently coming to terms with a death in the family
- Going through any difficult time such as divorce
- Have had experienced domestic abuse
- Not having support from friends and family
And whether or not you have had any of these issues in your life and if you are the mom having these symptoms then you need to get to a doctor right now and talk about what you are experiencing and how you are feeling. Or, if you are close to a pregnant mom who is having these symptoms, then insist that she gets help. She may be resistant but you have to keep encouraging her until she agrees. Otherwise, if the symptoms are not addressed, then they will escalate and that could lead to other serious consequences which you do not want to see happen. She can be helped and that is the good news.
How Can Antenatal Depression Be Treated
There are various forms of treatments for antenatal depression. Once the mom sees the doctor about the symptoms she is having, then the doctor will likely treat her him or herself or refer her to a psychiatrist for the treatments well as a psychologist for talk therapy. The concern would be about any kind of medication that the mom would have to be put on for depression, however, a psychiatrist would know which drugs are safe for the mom to take during pregnancy and only prescribe those to her. Medication is just one form of treatment for depression. However, it is also crucial that the mom gets therapy as it is important that she gets full treatment for antenatal depression. A psychologist that has experience with helping pregnant women with antenatal depression would be the ideal type of therapist to treat them.
The best treatments for antenatal depression are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), self-help, and talk therapy as well as the safe medication for mom to go on during pregnancy. Once she has those treatments in place, then she will be able to have the symptoms managed and be able to enjoy the rest of her pregnancy – unless pregnancy complications are playing a role in the depression she is experiencing. And, it is also very important to get the situation addressed properly or else she will be at an increased chance for ending up with postpartum depression which is also quite serious. This is also why it is important that women that are experiencing antenatal depression receive the same treatment after they give birth. If treatment is stopped then they could have a strong chance of ending up with postpartum depression. The medications as well that are given during pregnancy would also be safe for breastfeeding if mom chooses to do so. Either way, if you are the mom that is having these symptoms, then you need to get help right away from your doctor. If you know of a mom that is having these symptoms, get her help immediately!