Pre and Postnatal Depression

A significant number of women suffer from depression both during and after pregnancy. For many, the thought of pregnancy and childbirth is synonymous with sadness, fear and anxiety. Such a range of different emotions might make it very difficult for mothers to care for their families, and fathers to be able to understand the reality of the situation at home. 

In more extreme cases, some mothers have thoughts and feelings about hurting themselves and their children. These are normally symptoms of depression and need to be addressed. If you are a mother in such a situation, remember that help is available.

There may be several reasons why mothers or pregnant women may get depression. The female body goes through many hormonal changes both during and after pregnancy. When women are pregnant, their bodies produce hormones such as estrogen and progesterone in larger amounts. Following the first twenty-four hours after pregnancy, these hormone levels revert to their original state. Such changes in hormones can lead to depressing feelings.

These changes in one’s body, combined with the sense of change due to being overwhelmed with new responsibilities and that a new life awaits can increase risks of depression. 

When it comes to both pre and postnatal depression, there are certain risk factors one needs to be aware of. One of the largest risks is if a mother had a history of depression or any other mental illness. If within the family, there was a history of mental illness, this also serves as a risk factor. Women should also seek the support of their partners, relatives and friends both before and after pregnancy to reduce the risks of any mental ailments.

One common outcome amongst a lot of women is the baby blues. This is experienced after childbirth and is normally gone after a few days. Symptoms of baby blues are mood swings, feelings of sadness and anxiety, crying and loss of appetite.

If the feelings are more severe, it could be due to perinatal depression which occurs both during and after pregnancy. These feelings which include frustration, anxiety and the need to cry normally last more than baby blues and affect twenty per cent of women.

Help and therapy exist for such depression. Such would include talk therapy, possibly antidepressant medication and other supportive resources. Although such treatments are indeed effective, many women do not seek them. Such feelings need to be immediately addressed with a doctor.

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