Depression in pregnancy
Depression in pregnancy is more common than you might think. Our doctors are here to lend a supportive ear and provide the advice you need to manage your symptoms.
Government health statistics indicate that up to 13% of new and expectant mothers are affected by depression.
The reason pregnant women are more prone to depression is because your hormone levels can rise and fall quite dramatically over the course of a pregnancy.
This is particularly true just after giving birth, as you no longer have to provide for the developing baby. This causes a huge shift in the amount of oestrogen you produce.
Our doctors can help you and treat both prenatal and postnatal depression.
What is prenatal depression?
This is depression that occurs during your pregnancy, particularly in the early stages as your hormonal balance changes to accommodate your baby. It is sometimes known as antenatal depression.
There’s an expectation that pregnant women should be thrilled at the prospect of becoming a mother, or growing your family. However, you may feel tired, grumpy or negative about your pregnancy, or not feel any connection to your baby. This can happen even if your pregnancy was planned.
If this happens, you may not want to speak about your symptoms in order to avoid being seen in a negative light. However, you should seek treatment in the same way as anyone else with depression would.
There are a number of treatment options available, from support groups and talking therapies to antidepressants. If you do need medication, our doctors can suggest an antidepressant that’s safe to take during pregnancy.
Can depression during pregnancy harm your baby?
Some studies suggest that depression during pregnancy can increase your child's long-term vulnerability to mental health issues.
However, many children aren't affected at all, so you shouldn’t panic if you experience symptoms. You can speak to our doctors about your concerns and get the reassurance you need.
One way depression could indirectly harm your baby is that it may cause you to make unhealthy choices, such as drinking alcohol or smoking. It’s important to get treatment before you symptoms reach this stage.
What is postnatal depression?
Many new mums experience something called the ‘baby blues’ during the first few weeks after they give birth. Symptoms of this include:
It’s very common and usually lasts around a week but doesn't need treatment, as your hormones will usually settle down on their own.
However, postnatal depression (also known as postpartum depression) can occur at any time in the first year after birth.
The signs of postnatal depression are more severe than the ‘baby blues’ and may be accompanied by thoughts of harming yourself or your baby. You may also not feel any connection to your baby after it’s born. In rare cases, some mothers start to hear voices and may need to admitted to hospital.
Common reasons for postnatal depression include:
- Family history
- A stressful birth
- A stressful event occurring alongside your pregnancy, such as the death of a loved one
- Feeling tired, overwhelmed and anxious
- Worries about the physical changes in your body or the loss of your personal freedom
How long does postnatal depression last?
As everyone’s experience of postnatal depression is different, this is a difficult question to answer.
For many mothers, postnatal depression may not go away at all without treatment, so it’s important you ask for help.
Postnatal Depression Treatment
With Push Doctor, you can speak to a doctor privately and confidentially about your concerns from the comfort of your own home.
Our doctors will discuss your symptoms with you and suggest the most appropriate treatment. In the short term, they may recommend rest, getting help from family members, making time for yourself, talking to your partner, or joining a support group to share your experiences with other mothers.
Or they may discuss talking therapies or medication to treat your depression.
Understandably, some women don't want to speak up about postnatal depression. Common fears include being labelled a 'bad' mother, or that social services will take their child away.
You shouldn’t feel like this. Postnatal depression is an illness and, as our doctors will tell you, you’re doing the right thing by asking for help.
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Updated: October 23, 2019