Pregnancy is an exciting time, and truly like no other experience in the world. However, that doesn’t mean that every second of your pregnancy will feel happy and wonderful. In fact, if you’re feeling depressed throughout your pregnancy, you’re not alone.
You’ve probably heard of postpartum depression (PPD) which occurs after you give birth. Less focus has been given to depression during pregnancy, although it is not uncommon. According to Postpartum Support International, 10% of women experience depression during pregnancy.
The signs of depression often go unnoticed or untreated during pregnancy. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of depression to watch out for in case you are struggling. Once you know the symptoms, you can speak with your physician, midwife, or therapist to get the right diagnosis and treatment. Your physician, midwife, and/or therapist can help you find ways to deal with your depression and there are things you can do on your own to cope with your symptoms every day. You don’t have to feel hopeless or helpless during this unique stage of life.
Unique Signs to Look For
In addition to the more “traditional” signs of depression such as depressed mood, lack of pleasure, and sleep and appetite disturbances, there are some unique symptoms to be aware of that could indicate you’re dealing with depression while pregnant. Some of those symptoms include:
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of anxiety about your baby
- Struggling to feel reassured
Some women are at a higher risk of developing depression during pregnancy than others. For example, if you have a history of depression you are more likely to experience it. Dealing with an unplanned pregnancy or a lack of familial support can also increase your risk.
Once you have a better understanding of some of the more common signs, you can take active steps toward coping with the way you’re feeling. Most pregnant women understand how important it is to take care of their physical health. Taking care of your mental health is just as crucial. By making an effort to treat your depression now, you will be less likely to experience it after your baby is born.
How to Handle Depression While Pregnant
It can be difficult to reach out for help, but it’s crucial that you address your symptoms of depression since being depressed can lead to reductions in prenatal care. The first step is to talk with your physician, midwife, or therapist. You can address your symptoms through ongoing therapy and possibly through medication. There are medications that are safe to take while pregnant which can treat your symptoms, and your physician or midwife can talk to you about this option.
In addition to seeking out medical attention, changing some of your daily habits and including some new practices can help. Though depression can impact the way you sleep and your diet, it’s important to get as much rest as possible and nourish your body with healthy foods. Both will give you more energy, which can improve your mood.
Getting enough physical activity each day can also help. That doesn’t mean you have to do anything strenuous. A walk around your neighborhood is a great way to get your blood pumping. Exercise and being out in nature are both natural mood-boosters. For an even greater benefit, take that walk with a friend, family member, or your partner. Feeling supported and understood can make a big difference in your attitude and outlook.
Finally, monitor your stress levels. Depression is often accompanied by anxiety. Stress will only fuel those feelings, contributing to a cycle that is difficult to escape. You will want to reduce your stress as much as possible, and take time to pause, breathe, and be mindful each day.
If you’re pregnant and dealing with depression, feel free to contact me. Together, we can work on even more strategies to combat those feelings so you can enjoy this unique stage of life.