What is Prenatal Depression?
Expectant and new parents go through the spectrum of human emotion as they prepare for the ups and downs of parenthood. With excitement and happiness comes stress and apprehension, coupled with changes in our body, our moods and our general emotional state. Whilst these fluctuations are part of the process, ongoing negative emotions could point to the onset of depression.
Depression that begins during either the pregnancy or the post-birth period can intensify as time goes on if left undiagnosed and untreated. Seeking help is important as depression can impact you and your baby’s development.
The symptoms of depression during pregnancy or early parenthood are similar to those experienced at any other time in life, however people find it difficult to identify these signs in the midst of the physical and emotional changes taking place in the body. Common signs include:
- Low mood and/or feeling numb
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Increased or reduced appetite (often mistaken with pregnancy cravings)
- Low self-confidence and self worth
- Often feeling close to tears
- Increased levels of anger, irritability or resentfulness towards loved ones
- Fear for the baby and/or fear of being alone with the baby or the baby being unsettled
- Fear of being alone or going out
- Loss of interest in things that you would normally enjoy
- Recurring negative thoughts
- Lack of motivation
- Withdrawing from social contact and/ or not looking after yourself properly
- Having thoughts about harming yourself or your baby, ending your life, or wanting to escape or get away from everything.
It is vital for expectant and new mothers to seek help and open up about their emotional and mental wellbeing. Dealing with depression whilst rising to the pressures of a newborn can have an adverse effect on both parents and the child. A qualified health professional can provide an objective and safe space for clients to open up about the pressures they are experiencing and work together to formulate a strategy to move forward and enjoy the experience of bringing a new life to the world.
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