If you have had or currently have psychological issues, you are at high risk of having problems when you become pregnant. In The Pulse, we previously discussed depression, anxiety, bipolar and other challenges before and after giving birth (see articles here). Frequently, we get asked how to avoid mental health problems when pregnant. Of course, every person is different and every pregnancy is different. Nevertheless, we will give you a basic guidance to follow and, hopefully, you will be able to take good care of yourself. Remember: you are not alone! Many pregnant women feel depressed and have serious mood swings during and after pregnancy!
If you’re thinking about suicide, please read Suicide Help or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) in the U.S. now! To find a suicide helpline outside the U.S., visit IASP or Suicide.org. If your symptoms are not so severe, visit your health care professional or discuss it with your midwife or psychiatrist. Get help before it is too late!
What are the most common symptoms of depression during and after pregnancy?
Depression occurs to many soon-to-be-mothers and to new moms after they give birth. Depression during pregnancy can show its face in different ways, as follows:
- If you are feeling extremely sad, hopeless and disconnected with the world. What you should do: talk to a doctor.
- If you get disturbing thoughts, nightmares or, in general, don’t get proper sleep at night. What you should do: discuss it with your partner, religious or community leader, and/or trusted friend.
- If you experience loss of appetite, are not feeling well in general, have headaches, and feel detached from your loved ones. What you should do: seek medical help.
Most cases of mild depression can be controlled with the help of medication, meditation, and therapy. If you have postpartum psychosis, which is rare but can be very severe, you need careful medical monitoring.
Women with post-partum depression refer feeling negative about almost everything, getting constantly angry, not being able to cry or always feeling like crying. In such cases, both the baby and the mother are at risk. There are very unfortunate cases of moms hurting themselves and their babies. What you should do: seek medical help.
What should I do if I think I may be depressed?
- Seek professional help as soon as possible. If a doctor or psychologist is not available, talk to a family member, friend, or neighbor. Try to stay positive and think about all the good things happening in your life. Your doctor will probably prescribe you a medication, which you must take from time to time, and which will be of very minimal risk to you and your baby. In fact, the risk of harm happening to you and your baby if you do not take the medication is much higher!
- Indulge in activities that help you relax, such as yoga, aromatherapy, or listening to music. If you are unable to take care of your baby, ask someone to help you.
- Do not use or consume products that can be harmful to you and your baby: alcohol, cigarettes, and illicit drugs.