When you discover you are pregnant, a certain degree of stress and anxiety is to be expected - whether the pregnancy was planned or unplanned, the implications of a positive pregnancy test can be overwhelming. While this is a normal experience for many, there can be times when these feelings build up to such a level that they cause antenatal depression and other mental health issues.
You may feel as though now is the time to prove yourself as a 'multitasking hero', but in reality this is the time when you need support the most. Getting support and developing coping mechanisms can help transform a time of stress and anxiety into one of excitement and joy.
Most of us are well aware of postnatal depression and the associated symptoms, but a lot of people are still unaware of the effects antenatal depression can have. When you fall pregnant your body is put under immense stress, causing your hormones to work overtime. Not only does this lead to a range of physical symptoms (including morning sickness) it can also lead to the amplification of certain emotions.
When you begin to feel stressed it's these hormones that can, in some cases, lead to antenatal depression. Currently it is thought that around 10% of women are affected by it. Studies also show that if antenatal depression is not acknowledged and treated, around 50% of sufferers will go on to develop postnatal depression.
Symptoms of antenatal depression
There are likely to be times during your pregnancy when you feel down and unable to cope. While this may be common, it does not mean you need to suffer in silence. For some, these periods pass after a good chat with your other half, but for others it can turn into more than a 'blue day' and become antenatal depression.
The following symptoms are common in those suffering from depression during pregnancy, if you are experiencing similar feelings it may be worth speaking to your GP who can advise you what to do next.
Feeling tearful - your emotions will be running high due to your hormones during pregnancy regardless, but if you are feeling more tearful than expected, it may be a sign that you're not coping.
Feeling numb/empty - for some the implications of pregnancy are too overwhelming and the mind switches off. This may lead you to feel a numbness or emptiness at a time when you are expected to be overcome with joy.
Guilt/shame - there are a lot of expectations associated with pregnancy, and when you don't feel what you are expected to feel, it can lead to intense feelings of guilt and even shame for having negative thoughts.
Isolation - this can be especially true if your friends have not had children or if you come from an emotionally closed family. Feeling alone in your pregnancy often evokes feelings of panic and depression.
Insomnia - many women find it hard to sleep during pregnancy due to bodily changes, but for some it is a busy mind keeping them awake. This feeling of not being able to switch off and rest can lead to exhaustion, exaggerating negative emotions.
If you feel you are suffering from antenatal depression or anxiety it is essential that you seek help. As tempting as it may be to bury your head in the sand and ignore these feelings, dealing with them now will save you a lot of time, energy and heartache later. It also means you will experience a happier, more relaxed pregnancy which can only benefit your child.
Here at GEMS Hospital, a qualified counsellor can provide space for you to vent your concerns or frustrations in a safe, non-judgmental environment. They will also be able to talk you through your feelings so you better understand why they are occurring, as well as offering coping mechanisms and relaxation techniques.
For appointments, contact us on ------------.