Who knew that depression in pregnancy existed? I didn’t until it hit me during my second pregnancy. It has its own name and everything: antenatal or prenatal depression. Postnatal depression is a common topic with midwives and parenting groups during pregnancy and afterwards. Yet, antenatal depression is rarely discussed or acknowledged. For me, it made pregnancy a battle instead of a happy time, and I had no idea of the help available.
First things first
Initially, it’s about acknowledging that you may have antenatal depression. It’s normal during pregnancy to have fluctuating hormones, but when you realise you are constantly low, sad, or feeling worthless, it might be time to take the symptoms more seriously. I felt utterly helpless and alone because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. It’s important that women with a history of depression speak to their doctor or midwife so that there is increased awareness of past mental health issues.
There is no shame
Depression in whatever form it presents itself should never be something to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Yet, sadly there is still a stigma associated with it. It’s easier to put on a brave smile and convince everyone else and yourself that you’re okay. It’s brave to acknowledge that you need help whether you’re pregnant or not.
The decision to take antidepressants
There is still a lack of substantial evidence about the risks of taking antidepressants during pregnancy, and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) may be prescribed by doctors. The issue is, the doctor can only give you the options, ultimately you have to decide what is best for you. I decided to take antidepressants because I wasn’t coping. It was the right decision because within a month I was feeling a lot better mentally.
There are other options to ease antenatal depression, such as talking therapies and lifestyle changes. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) may help you, although sometimes waiting lists can be lengthy. Also, there are many online support groups and forums where other women will share their experiences of antenatal depression. Knowing that others have or are experiencing the same feelings as you during depression may bring some comfort and support. Changes to diet and exercise may also help.
The most important thing is that you are looking after you. So, if you think you may have antenatal depression, it’s important to speak to your doctor or midwife about it and not suffer in silence. There are options available and what you decide to do is a personal choice. Whether you choose to take antidepressants or speak to a counsellor, it’s your choice and doesn’t make you a bad mum.
Written by Sarah Haselwood
Sarah Haselwood is a Freelance Writer who focuses on creating original, engaging and accurate content.
She has a blog focused on honest parenting, sprinkled with a sense of humour: https://corporatetokids.com
Sarah has a passion for writing about women in the workplace, parenting and women’s mental and physical health concerning pregnancy and birth.