During the antepartum period, a lot of changes take place. When evaluating the factors that could contribute to mood problems in pregnancy, particularly depression, it is worth mentioning that about 10% of pregnant women suffer from symptoms that are consistent with a diagnosis of major depression. In some cases, that percentage can be much higher than people realize.
Pregnancy causes a woman to undergo the following changes:
- A change in emotions
- Change of role
- Changes in relationships
There may be differences in how a woman interacts with her family, partner, friends, employer, and even with herself. Her life is changed by becoming a mother, so she considers what it entails. Additionally, the woman’s relationship with her unborn child plays a role, making depression unexpectedly hard for herself and her family during a time of change.
Typical Symptoms of Major Depression During Antepartum
It can be difficult to differentiate the symptoms of depression from normal kinds of discomforts and changes that can occur during pregnancy, especially physically, since the symptoms are essentially the same as those we would see at any other time in life and in any gender.
Typical Symptoms are:
- Change in sleeping habits
- Feelings of guilt, fear, or negativity
- A change in appetite
- Mood changes
- The ability to cope with stress
- Thinking speed
- Changes in her Energy level
- Connectedness to other people or roles
Knowing how the pregnant woman has been affected by the above symptoms often requires some prior knowledge. Family, friends, and her usual caregivers can be very perceptive about whether they see fundamental changes in the way the woman thinks, feels, and functions.
How to Recognize Depression from Normal Pregnancy Changes
- It is possible to identify depression in pregnancy by looking at things like fatigue, speed of thinking, and reaction to the increasing intensity or expression of emotion that comes with pregnancy’s hormonal and physical changes.
- These changes should improve with rest and support, not persist for a very long time, and not interfere with day-to-day functioning.
In addition to normal pregnancy changes, depression is more likely to occur if;
- Feelings that seem out of place with her situation
- There is a persistent and worsening of symptoms
- The way she feels and thinks is becoming increasingly negative
- In some cases, if everything is going well during pregnancy, there are no major complications, but the woman begins to think more and more pessimistically about the future and finds no joy in the present.
The Risk Factors for Depression in The Antenatal Period
- An episode of major depression in the past
- At some point in the pregnancy or around the time of her pregnancy, she lost significant support
- During pregnancy, there was a lot of pain and complications
- She has been experiencing unusually high levels of stress lately
- Susceptibility to mood changes
- The physical and emotional challenges she faces may reduce her natural resilience to mood regulation and mood stability.
Although the above doesn’t necessarily indicate that she’s going to have depression during or after pregnancy, it may put her in a slightly higher risk category.
How to Cope with Depression During Pregnancy
- If stress has been recent and not cumulative, it may enable the woman to strategize and deal with what she faces
- Have a good history of coping with difficulties
- Having a strong support system will be very beneficial
- In pregnant women, self-care strategies are still extremely important
- Make sure you eat correctly and address any health issues you may have
- Possessing a preexisting psychological understanding of herself and her coping style and having good coping skills
- Having the motivation to parent (especially if the pregnancy was not planned)
Safest Way to Treat Antepartum Depression
During pregnancy, interpersonal cognitive-behavior psychotherapy may be very effective for treating mild to moderate symptoms and avoiding medication use.
The outcome of mothers and infants suffering from severe depression is poor if left untreated
- The use of medications with severe symptoms is relatively safe when monitored by a healthcare provider
- The support of family and friends is essential
- Family and friends provide invaluable support. They are involved in the practical care of the mom and reducing the stigma around her having to seek assessment and treatment for depression.
Depression May Go Away after Delivery
Some women do not develop postpartum depression after giving birth, there are instances in which the woman’s mood improves after delivery. It seems that the increased hormonal load of pregnancy was the trigger for these women.
Postpartum depression will certainly be less likely to worsen if depression is treated safely and effectively during the antepartum period. Additionally, this will decrease the risk of new illnesses during the postpartum period.
Follow your Depression Treatment Plan
When people try to get treatment until their symptoms are barely reduced, they sometimes come off the medication abruptly. However, this practice can lead to a higher risk of relapse and recurrent mood disorders both during pregnancy and postpartum and for life.
General Treatment Interventions
- Reduce stressors whenever possible
- Increased rest and moderate exercise as directed by her doctor
- Consider psychotherapy where possible
- Ensure that you receive practical and emotional support
- Take advantage of mental health assessments where they are available
This drives home the point that major depressive disorders can strike during the antepartum period. This is true even if a woman is not pregnant.
An important point to remember is that pregnancy does not protect women from depression, self-care and psychological strategies are key. Medications can be used in severe cases. For safety and monitoring always follow the direction of your healthcare provider.
Successful treatment of depression during pregnancy is critical to the new mother’s functioning when the infant comes.
When a new mother’s depression is successfully treated during pregnancy, she is more likely to be able to care for her baby when she gives birth.