- Where does prenatal depression come from?
- Antenatal depression: how to recognize it?
- Are there any risks for baby?
- How to treat depression in pregnant women?
Where does prenatal depression come from?
You are pregnant, you will soon have a beautiful baby and form the family of your dreams, so you must necessarily be swimming in complete happiness, right? In the collective mind, pregnancy = joy, it would therefore almost be inappropriate for a future mother to admit that she has anxiety, low morale , and even that real depression is ruining her life.
Because prenatal depression is not always diagnosed, it is quite complicated to obtain statistics on its prevalence.
So where do these troubles come from which overshadow any moment of joy and which prevent us from planning peacefully for the rest of the pregnancy and after birth? There are several factors that promote depression when you are expecting a child:
• Hormonal changes can promote depressive disorders. Estrogen and progesterone are activated every day, and this waltz of hormones can cause emotional tsunamis.
• Difficulties that arise during pregnancy can also promote depression: a separation, the loss of a loved one, a precarious situation, isolation, aggression or illness can impact the mental health of pregnant women.
• Depression will be increased if the pregnancy was not particularly wanted , if the future mother experienced problems in her childhood, or if she has already been affected by a depressive disorder in the past.
Depression can occur in pregnant women from the first months of pregnancy – because this big news has created or brought up anxiety – as well as at the end of pregnancy. The approaching birth, the fact of soon plunging into a completely new life, in which all reference points are erased, can lead to real depression. It is to be distinguished from the fed-up that many women experience in the last trimester: nausea at the end of pregnancy, food restrictions, weight gain can be a source of a certain frustration... without any comparison with real depression, which can also continue after childbirth and turn into postpartum depression. It is therefore essential to know how to recognize a depressive state, to be able to find appropriate solutions and escape this vicious circle.
Antenatal depression: how to recognize it?
Behind a facade smile hide signs that do not deceive.
• Expectant mothers suffering from prenatal depression generally have little enthusiasm for everyday tasks, which they carry out mechanically.
• They eat little , or on the contrary overeat.
• Irritability, bad mood, sadness are among the symptoms of prenatal depression.
• Sleep disorders are also present: negative thoughts, stress and anxiety creep in at night and eat into recovery time, thus creating excessive fatigue and a lack of energy on a daily basis.
• Preparing for the birth of a baby is not a source of joy and can even be experienced as a constraint. Some future mothers neglect their pregnancy monitoring . They have risky behaviors (tobacco consumption, alcohol, etc.) which could harm the child or suicidal thoughts.
Are there any risks for baby?
It is now proven that the fetus feels the emotions – positive and negative – of its mother. If the child is subjected to high levels of stress, the body will release high levels of cortisol, which will also impact the child in utero (1). The risk of premature birth will then increase. And at birth, babies may be more agitated, have sleep problems, cry more often, and have difficulty creating an emotional attachment with their mother.
Because prenatal depression can have consequences on the baby's health, and because it can, after delivery, turn into postpartum depression, it is essential to treat it at the first signs.
How to treat depression in pregnant women?
On a daily basis, try to give yourself moments, without pressure. You can do gentle physical activity like walking, swimming or yoga or do meditation to clear your mind. Adopting a healthy diet without deficiencies is always a good idea: it will have an impact on your morale, but also on your baby's health. And why not take a relaxing break from time to time: hairdresser, massage, shopping…
If the symptoms are deep and persist, it is essential not to be alone and to dare to ask for help. Antenatal depression requires treatment as soon as it appears. Opening up to a psychologist can help you put words to your discomfort, to understand its origins to better understand its manifestations.
In the most serious cases, doctors can prescribe antidepressants – after assessing the benefit-risk balance, and suggest hospitalization.
Vague in the soul or real depression, you should not hesitate to confide your anxieties and to open up to a person you trust. Your partner or a midwife will be able to direct you towards appropriate care – to put all the chances on your side, experience your pregnancy to the fullest, and find a pretty smile before the big meeting with baby!