What causes antenatal depression?
It can be caused by a chemical or hormonal imbalance, or could be the result of your personal situation. If your pregnancy was unplanned, you are stressed or have work, money or relationship worries, you may be more likely to suffer from antenatal depression.
You may also be at higher risk if you had trouble conceiving or miscarried in the past.
I have suffered from depression before. Am I more likely to get antenatal depression?
Unfortunately, yes. If you or a close family member have suffered from depression previously, you could be more susceptible.
Make sure your midwife is aware of this so she can offer you support from the start.
What are the symptoms of antenatal depression?
You may feel tired but can’t sleep for worrying; maybe you’ve either lost your appetite or are overeating; perhaps you have stopped wanting to go out or see other people; you cry a lot; feel isolated and lonely; have irrational thoughts – for example, that you might harm your unborn baby by doing a normal daily task, or show irrational behaviour – such as obsessive handwashing.
Excessive tiredness and a change in appetite are also common pregnancy symptoms. Remember too that it’s normal to have mood swings when you’re pregnant, and crying over an advert on the TV doesn’t mean you have antenatal depression.
How can I get help?
‘Your first port of call should be your midwife,’ says Delphi Ellis, founder of Depression in Pregnancy.
‘Speak to her and if you don’t feel happy with the response, speak to your GP. They’ll be able to offer you support such as counselling.’
Tell your mum, partner or a close friend how you’re feeling. Just talking about your emotions can help you feel more in control and less isolated.
In some cases, your GP might prescribe antidepressants that are safe for you to take in pregnancy.
Will the depression go away after the birth?
There’s no clear link between ante- and post-natal depression, so there’s no reason you should continue to feel depressed after the birth.
If external factors such as money worries, continue to be a worry, seek help early on, to help you deal both practically with the situation and get the emotional support you need.