People tend to assume that if you’re pregnant, you must be happy and overjoyed that you’re having a baby. This can be true, but not all the time. You can be happy you are pregnant, but all of a sudden this feeling goes away and becomes replaced by what could seem like eternal blues. This, my dear, is pregnancy depression (PD).
We all agree that depression is a medical condition that should be given proper attention and treated correctly. However, pregnancy depression -although common in women- is often ignored amongst Egyptians. In fact, many women in Egypt, including myself, had struggled with pregnancy depression without even knowing it.
Here’s what you need to know about PD.
What is pregnancy depression?
According to the American Pregnancy Association, depression during pregnancy -or antepartum depression- is a mood disorder just like clinical depression. Mood disorder is a biological illness that involves changes in brain chemistry.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy depression?
PD has many symptoms which include:
- Extreme anxiety
- Unconditioned sadness
- Lack of interest
- Avoiding people
- No joy from things that are usually enjoyable
- Lack of appetite and/or eating disorders
- Too much or little sleep
- Decreased libido
- Suicidal thoughts
Am I responsible for my pregnancy depression?
No, you are not. It has to do with hormones and brain chemistry during pregnancy. However, there are risk factors that make you more vulnerable to PD, such as:
- Unstable marriage
- Previous pregnancy loss
- Pregnancy complications
- Unstable income
- Lack of support
- Inflexible work arrangements
- Unplanned pregnancy
- History of depression
What should I do if I have pregnancy depression?
Untreated PD can be risky for the mother and fetus. The following can help:
- Seek professional help, especially if you’re having severe PD or the symptoms continue for a prolonged period of time.
- Explain what you’re going through to people whom you consider your support system, and ask for their support.
- Opt for group support.
- Focus on your food. Improve your eating habits and nourish yourself.
- Unwind by allocating time for self-care.
- Exercise safely. You can join other expecting moms in the Rahet Bally Mama-To-Be Strength Program.
- Believe that you can fight depression. It’s a phase that shall pass.
How to support a friend with pregnancy depression?
PD symptoms can go unnoticed. If you have a loved one whom you suspect is dealing with PD, you can help by the following tips. These recommendations are based on my personal experience and are the things that I wished people who cared about me had understood and done.
- Understand what she’s going through
- Listen without judgment
- Understand her need to be alone but be there when she needs you
- Don’t persistently offer solutions
- Offer physical help in other forms, such as babysitting or to exercise or shop together.
Further reading: What You Need to Know About Pregnancy Leg Cramps