Tips on How to Cope with Depression During Pregnancy

by - March 07, 2018


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Everyone seems to talk about postpartum depression (PPD). There are myriads of reference articles, research, and support groups available for PPD, but prenatal depression seems to be swept under the rug.

Prenatal depression, antenatal depression, or simply depression during pregnancy is a real thing. Often, people discount the feeling as something "normal" and "expected" during pregnancy, what with all the hormones and bodily changes a woman goes through.

But the truth is, being depressed during pregnancy is not normal nor expected, just like how being clinically depressed isn't normal for non-pregnant people.

Here are some useful information on what you need to know regarding prenatal depression and some practical tips on how to cope with depression during pregnancy—coming from someone who also struggled with prenatal depression.


What is prenatal depression?

Prenatal depression, or antenatal depression, is a form of clinical depression that occurs during pregnancy. Like clinical depression, it's a mood disorder caused by a number of reasons, mostly attributed to a hormonal imbalance.

Cause
The cause of prenatal depression is, unfortunately, poorly understood. But studies have shown that certain risk factors may trigger depression during pregnancy—such as genetics, personal history of depression, pregnancy complications, previous pregnancy loss, being in an abusive relationship, or going through stressful life events like divorce, death in the family, and more.

Symptoms
If you've been feeling extremely sad, constantly distracted, sleeping or eating too little or too much, anxious, mulling over suicide, or feeling generally low for more than 2 weeks, chances are, you're having prenatal depression.

Prevalence
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), prenatal depression affects 14% to 23% of women. Depression during pregnancy is, in fact, not rare. But many pregnant women feel that they are alone, partly because no one seems to have the courage to talk about it.




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How do you cope with depression during pregnancy?

1. Open up about your depression to someone you trust
It's sometimes really hard to open up about something that's laden with stigma, but it's one of the first steps to recovery. Talk to someone you trust—it may be your husband, your parents or siblings, your best friend, or your pastor—the important thing is that you're comfortable talking with that person.

Tell them about your thoughts, no matter how incoherent it may sound. The one you're talking to may not fully understand what you're going through, but just having someone to listen to you makes all the difference.

Bonus Tip: If you're not comfortable talking to someone you know, you can talk anonymously to a trained volunteer through Samaritans, a community of volunteers based in the UK who aims to help those struggling with mental health issues. If you're living overseas like me, you can opt to email them through jo@samaritans.org.

2. Read or sing to your baby
While there aren't enough studies to prove that depression during pregnancy affects your unborn baby, it may negatively affect your capability to care for yourself, which in turn could affect your baby. Depression could also potentially lead you to feel unattached to your baby.

To help you bond with your little one, and also to help you unwind, try reading or singing to your baby. Read aloud children's stories and fairytales; your soothing voice can aid in your baby's vocabulary development. It also helps you keep your mind off negative thoughts. Listen to classical music and let your baby hear it too. Studies have shown that classical music can positively impact your unborn baby's brain development.


3. Walk around your neighborhood
Exercise is one of the best and non-pharmaceutical ways to ease the symptoms of depression. Any form of physical activity like walking around your neighborhood prompts your body to release feel-good hormones called endorphins, which can help you improve your sense of well-being. Exercising during pregnancy also helps you maintain a healthy amount of weight gain, as well as helping you prep up for labor when the right time comes.

Bonus Tip: Walking around may not be an option for you if you're on bed rest or having a complicated pregnancy. You can try brain-stimulating exercises instead, such as solving crossword puzzles and Sudoku.

4. Pamper yourself
Self-care is often overlooked when looking for treatment for depression. Being able to pamper yourself by going out for a haircut, having your nails done, or simply getting a good warm shower can help you feel good, even for just a little while.

Bonus Tip: You can also ask your husband or your family to do things for you when you're feeling down in the dumps. Ask for a back rub, breakfast in bed, or a trip to the mall to help you recharge and have a change in scenery.

5. Seek help from a professional
This sounds pretty cliché, and most websites will tell you the same thing. But if you feel like you're becoming a threat to yourself, such as having recurrent suicidal thoughts and having bouts of rage, it may be the best option to seek help from a professional.

Try going to your nearest hospital and look for a psychiatrist. Don't worry about the potential effects of anti-depressants while your pregnant; some brands are considered safe to use during pregnancy. You may also be able to work out a treatment plan with your psychiatrist without needing medications.

~*~

Battling depression during pregnancy is no easy feat. I managed to cope with mine without having to seek help from a psychiatrist. Untreated depression during pregnancy could increase your likelihood of having postpartum depression, so it's important for the issue to be addressed early on.

If you feel that you have depression—pregnant or not—please feel free to contact Samaritans. They were a really big help when I was pregnant and even after pregnancy when I had the baby blues. Or you can always contact me. You can do it, Momma! :-)



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