Depression during and after pregnancy

Depression is a feeling where one feels sad, miserable, or unhappy. Many people go through this feeling one or more than one time in their lives for a short period of time. Depression can vary from person to person, it can range as mild, moderate, or severe. The best way to find about is to talk to a doctor who can help you determine and influence your treatment.

A majority number of women go through this phase of depression as researchers believe that it is one of the most common complications that a woman goes through during pregnancy. It is difficult to recognize if a woman is going through depression or not but some symptoms like tiredness, sleeping issues, sudden mood swings, and weight change may display signs of depression.

Causes of depression 

Depression can occur in a number of different ways, and the exact cause of it is still unclear by the doctors.

Depression during pregnancy is known as prenatal depression, and it may cause due to

  • Family history of depression
  • Less support from family and friends
  • Anxiety about the fetus
  • Financial or marital issues
  • Problems with a past pregnancy

Depression after pregnancy is known as postpartum depression, and it may cause due to

  • Tiredness after delivery of child
  • The overwhelmingness of taking care of the baby
  • Change in routines of home and work
  • Feeling less attractive
  • Having less time for yourself

Symptoms of depression 

  • Feeling sad or overwhelmed
  • Having no motivation
  • Eating less
  • Crying a lot
  • Sleeping less
  • Trouble in focusing
  • Loss of interest
  • Not talking to friends and family
  • Having headaches, palpitations, etc.
  • Feeling restless or irritable

If any of the above symptoms during or after pregnancy last for more than two weeks then they may be a sign of depression.

Baby blues is a feeling of sadness that might occur after the pregnancy. It normally lasts for only a few days and can cause sudden mood swings, loss of appetite, sleeping issues, restlessness, and a feeling of loneliness. The symptoms of baby blues are not severe enough and therefore do not require any kind of treatment. But you should always reach out to your spouse, family members, and friends for any kind of help and support you need. You can also talk to other new moms.

Postpartum depression occurs within the first year after a child is born. Symptoms of postpartum depression are sadness, lack of energy, anxiety, and a feeling of worthlessness. Postpartum depression is different from baby blues because it affects a women’s well–being and doesn’t allow her to function well. It requires treatment from a doctor.

Postpartum psychosis is a very rare condition. Out of 1000 births, it only occurs to 1 or 2 women. Women who suffer from bipolar disorder or any other psychiatric problem have a higher risk to develop postpartum psychosis. The symptoms of this condition are hallucinations, sleep issues, delusions, and other obsessive thoughts about the baby.

Steps to avoid having symptoms of depression during or after pregnancy 

It has been found that several women try to avoid their symptoms of depression as they feel ashamed and embarrassed about their condition. They think that their family might not be happy and supportive of this condition. But it is important to understand that this depression can happen to any woman, and they are totally treatable. There exists talk therapies or mom groups where you can go and share your feelings openly and feel better. Some of the helpful techniques are stated below –

  • Stop pressurizing yourself with an extra load of work
  • Take as much rest as you can
  • Ask your family and friends to help you out with general chores
  • You can also have a house help to help you feed the baby and take care of other errands
  • Talk to your partner and family about your feelings
  • Have conversations with other moms to understand how they manage things
  • Do not spend time alone
  • Try to go out on short walks whenever you feel like it
  • Join support groups for women. They are helpful and fun at the same time
  • Avoid doing any major changes in your life, as they might lead to stress

While going through any problems, the best and most advised thing is to talk. Talk to anyone you are comfortable with. The one thing to avoid is antidepressant medicines as they have some risks that might even affect the health of the baby. Many women suffer from depression during and after pregnancy. Women who struggle with this condition often need to seek the help of a professional, but there are several things that they can do themselves to feel better. If you’re suffering from depression during or after pregnancy, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

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