When you are pregnant, you will almost certainly feel stressful and full of anxiety, a feeling of the unknown. Wherever the pregnancy was planned or unplanned, the feelings are always the same. These feelings can sometime rise up to something more and can lead to antenatal depression and similar health problems.
If you do start to suffer from antenatal depression, then this is a time for support. Getting this support can offer you a way of coping with these feelings and can help you in times of stress. For some an unwanted pregnancy or unexpected miscarriage can create considerable distress.
Many people know about postnatal depression, but many are still not familiar with antenatal depression and the symptoms it can bring. When you are pregnant, your body is under stress and that leads to hormones working faster than normal, leading to more emotional responses to situations.
If you are feeling stressed, hormones in your body can lead to antenatal depression. Through statistics, we can see that around 10% of women will be affected by this disorder.
Causes of antenatal depression
What causes depression differs from person to person, but a list includes:
- sometimes the simple upset of your body's hormone balance is enough to trigger depression.
- perhaps your partner isn't as supportive as you hoped, or maybe you're going through this alone, either way relationship problems can often spark feelings of depression.
- concerns over the amount of money you'll need to raise a baby is a common worry among expectant mothers.
Despair over morning sickness
- for some, this symptom of pregnancy is debilitating and can even lead to hospitalization.
Lack of sleep- pregnancy related insomnia and general exhaustion could lead you to over think situations and magnify negative emotions.
- when you become pregnant a spotlight is often shone on your own family life and previous rifts and tensions can become exaggerated.
Symptoms of antenatal depression
The following symptoms are common in those suffering from depression during pregnancy:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Feeling anxious about your baby's health, the birth and your ability as a parent are all perfectly natural. If these feelings begin to get in the way of your happiness however, it may be time to take action.
Common symptoms of anxiety include:
With anxiety, there are many symptoms that you can suffer from, a list of these includes:
Feeling on-edge all the time
- it is natural to feel anxious occasionally throughout your pregnancy, but if you are starting to feel anxious constantly, or about non-specific things, it may be worth seeking help.
Anxiety/panic attacks- in some cases, these feelings become overwhelming for both the body and mind, resulting in a panic attack.
- sometimes the very thought of being near to a person or place that instils feelings of anxiety means you avoid them at all costs.
- you may find yourself struggling to focus on one task at a time or you may become easily distracted.
Seeking professional help from a qualified professional such as your GP or a counsellor can help greatly with anxiety.
Anxiety towards the birth
If you are pregnant, it is only natural to feel some kind of anxiety before giving birth. This could be something that you have never had to deal with before and can therefore be a stressful time. In more severe cases, for some people the thought of giving birth becomes almost a phobia.
To cope with this type of anxiety it is recommended that you arm yourself with information and speak to a doctor or another professional that would be able to talk you through it and offer up and advice that you may need. Asking people or reading about people’s past experiences can also play its part.
You could also learn some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing to control your anxiety levels.
Coping with a traumatic birth
Many people see giving birth as a traumatic event due to either experiences, or complications. There are many ways in which you can deal with this type of anxiety.
To cope with the experience of a traumatic birth, there are many different techniques that you can use to help you through this difficult time. Being fully informed about exactly what happened is key to dealing with the event, and you can get a detailed piece of information from a nurse about what your labour was like.
Gaining support from other mothers who have experienced similar births often helps, as this can give you first hand experience and you can see what others have gone through.
Tips to cope with depression and anxiety during pregnancy
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety during your pregnancy, you can do the following:
- when you have the all clear from your doctor, participating in light exercise such as antenatal yoga will increase your energy levels and boost production of 'feel-good' dopamine hormones.
Communicate with your place of work
- working throughout pregnancy can increase stress levels, so be sure to keep an open dialogue with your boss regarding your pregnancy. Be sure to inform them that you may have to take a lighter workload and that you may need to cut down your hours.
Nap when you can
- if you are struggling to sleep at night it can be helpful to take 20-minute cat-naps throughout the day to revive you.
– See a professional, either a doctor or counsellor.
How can a counsellor help with depression and anxiety during pregnancy?
Counsellors are able help as they can provide a space where you can talk and express what you are feeling, in a safe 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 that you may want to try out.
We provide telephone counselling and email counselling specialising in depression, bullying, cancer, OCD, stress, bereavement, self-esteem, trauma & abuse.
You Call We Listen online counselling can help you with: