Antenatal depression (depression during pregnancy) is estimated to affect at least 10% of pregnant women, and receives even less attention than postpartum depression. Women can of course experience other mental health concerns during pregnancy, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Eating Disorders.
Many symptoms of depression such as fatigue, appetite changes, and difficulty sleeping can overlap with pregnancy symptoms. However, these symptoms and other signs of depression or mood disorders should not be ignored or chalked up to “hormones.”
I believe now that I experienced some antenatal depression during my first pregnancy. However, I remained functional and my doctor believed in the inaccurate and outdated notion that pregnancy protects against mood disorders (which it doesn’t). I believe these circumstances contributed to minimal attention to my mental health during pregnancy.
During my current (second) pregnancy, I have been much more attentive to changes in my mood, which have included difficulty sleeping and staying asleep for no discernable reason, widespread irritability, difficulty concentrating, and lack of interest in socializing or my regular activities. My doctor has referred me to the maternal mental health program here, and increased my medication slightly. I have also focused more on maintaining good sleep habits, keeping up with regular exercise, and avoiding negative thought patterns.
If you do think you may be having mood problems during pregnancy, talk to your health care professional and don’t hesitate to get a second opinion if required. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, treatment may include talk therapy, a support group, and/or medications.
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