Prenatal Depression - Preventing and Coping With Depression During Pregnancy

On this page, some suggestions are given on how to deal with prenatal depression, or depression during pregnancy.

Though it sounds very trite, prevention is better than cure. Even though a large number of pregnancies are unplanned, there are some concrete steps one can take to keep depression at bay during this very trying time for a young mother. Some of the measures to take are as discussed in this article.

Although pregnancies are more often than not planned, it is wise to plan in advance when you wish to conceive, as this will help you take steps to prevent prenatal depression. It is prudent to inform your caretaker, your physician, who may have treated you in the past for depression, that you are planning to conceive. This will help your doctor plan a support system for you well in advance, rather than you trying to access help when you are already overwhelmed by the pregnancy as well as the accompanying anxiety and depression.

So, how can one prevent and deal with prenatal depression, or depression during pregnancy? Here are some suggestions.

Ensure that you access professional health services

If already pregnant, it is advisable to mention to your physician and midwives that you are prone to depression and relate the symptoms being experienced. Most delivery units have excellent specialist services to address the requirement of depression prevention in the ante-natal period.

Coping with unplanned or unexpected pregnancy

Statistics point to the fact that 50% of pregnancies in the UK are unplanned. In rare cases, even when the pregnancy is unplanned, once accepted, it is a source of joy and great excitement. But for some, it is a devastating life challenge that can quickly spiral into anxiety, stress and depression.

If the latter is the case, it is important to talk to someone who is trustworthy about your true feelings and seek emotional support. Talking to a counselor would be most recommended. Bottling up emotions leads to greater stress and depression.

Stress of pregnancy and no partner

This is another leading cause of women being pregnant and depressed. Research shows up evidence that single women who do not have the advantage of an involved partner during pregnancy are likely to suffer from depression during the pregnancy as well as post-natally.

However unfortunate this is, it is important that you seek support from a set of people who can compensate for the lack of a partner’s presence in your life. This will alleviate some of the emotional stress and isolation that you will feel and will help you look forward to childbirth and your future. Consequently, this will help to ward off prenatal depression.

Relationship issues during pregnancy

This is an issue which can turn out worse than if you did not have any partner at all during pregnancy. Being with a partner that you are not compatible with during pregnancy can lead to anxiety and stress, resulting in acute prenatal depression. This can happen if you find that you are pregnant and your partner is unsupportive.

Hence, it is important to seek professional help if you are undergoing relationship problems during the course of a pregnancy, as a rocky relationship can lead to prenatal depression which can affect the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of both the expectant mother as well as the fetus / newborn.

Violence and abuse during pregnancy

If you are a victim of violence and abuse, then this is obviously risking your life as well as that of your unborn child, and can lead to crippling depression if left untreated. Hence, it is imperative to seek help immediately if you find yourself stuck in this untenable situation.

Health problems and afflictions during pregnancy

Another major challenge that is seen in the prenatal period that often leads to depression is other health problems that the pregnant women may have at the onset of pregnancy. This means that the individual already has a certain amount of stress (physical, mental and emotional) to start with, and the challenges of pregnancy may add to this, leading to certain prenatal depression.

If the pregnancy is a planned one, it is advisable that any ailment or affliction be brought fully under control under a strict regimen of physician care, diet, exercise and medication, prior to conception. If pregnancy occurs in an unplanned manner, and if the affliction is not well managed, it is important to schedule an immediate appointment with your physician, so this can be managed well at the earliest.

Financial and work challenges that can occur in the prenatal period, leading to depression

Sometimes, both these situation are related, when the pregnant woman will need to continue to work throughout pregnancy for financial reasons, but the workplace may not be conducive to the same, leading to acute stress.

Some workplaces are known to harbor extreme prejudice against pregnant women, and tend to demote them and look down upon any time taken off to keep maternity appointments. In such situations, it is important to be aware of your rights as a working individual and seek support, so that stress which could lead to prenatal depression does not build up.

Conclusion

Although depression can occur at any point in an individual’s life, the connection between depression and pregnancy is strong due to the tremendous stress on physical, emotional and mental resources placed on women during the phase.

Should the condition surface, it is then important to seek appropriate professional help and ensure that depression during pregnancy and the prenatal period is treated in a timely manner. This will help prevent long term negative health and emotional problems, both to the newborn and the mother.

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