Women and their partners may go through a wide range of emotional experiences during pregnancy and the year following birth (the perinatal period). Physical changes in pregnancy can affect your emotions and mood, and being a parent may be different from your expectations.
Common symptoms of antenatal depression:
The following symptoms may help you to recognise if you have antenatal depression:
- constant tears and feelings of sadness
- sleepless nights and difficulty concentrating
- a general feeling of anxiety
- irritability with yourself, your partner/family and the world in general
- lack of appetite
- severe fatigue and wanting to stay in bed all the time
- difficulty leaving the house/handling social situations.
Risk of the baby if untreated during pregnancy:
a) low birth weight of the baby
b) Pre term delivery
c) may risk of depression of the baby in his or her adolescent period
Emotional health risks during & Post Pregnancy
Having to deal with so many changes during pregnancy and the year following birth can place some women at risk of developing depression, anxiety or other less common mental health problems, such as bipolar disorder and puerperal (postpartum) psychosis.
Often there doesn’t seem to be any obvious reason why a woman starts to experience symptoms, but certain life factors can make it more likely that the experience of pregnancy and early parenthood will be complicated by mental health symptoms. It’s important to remember that mental health problems can happen to anyone, just like any other complication of pregnancy.
Minimize your risk of mental health problems during & Post Pregnancy
It is important for all women to take care of their emotional health during pregnancy and early parenthood. It’s also a good idea for both mums and dads to learn about mental health symptoms so they can recognize when help is needed if you are finding it difficult to manage from day to day. If you have been feeling sad, down, worried or anxious for a while, and this is starting to affect your life, it’s time to seek help.
The symptoms of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder are much the same during the perinatal period as they are at other life stages, although the types of symptoms can differ for each woman. Some women experience symptoms of both depression and anxiety. For some depression symptoms are strongest and for others anxiety symptoms dominate. Symptoms of bipolar disorder and puerperal (postpartum) psychosis can both start very suddenly and may need urgent psychological treatment/therapy.
Who can assist
It can be difficult for people with depression or anxiety to take that first step in getting help. These conditions can reduce people’s motivation or confidence to take action, and some may feel embarrassed. However, effective treatments are available so while you might be hesitant, it’s worth seeking support from a qualified Clinical Psychologist. Clinical psychologists specialized in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of emotional health problems. They provide psychological therapies (talking therapies) such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT).
If left untreated depression and anxiety can go on for months, sometimes years, and can have many negative effects on a person’s life. It’s therefore important to seek help early – the sooner a person gets treatment, the sooner they can recover. Enlisting the support of family members and friends can be helpful in getting you started towards your recovery.