Depression often goes undiagnosed during pregnancy

One in ten pregnant women experience mental health problems, and often go undiagnosed until after the baby is born.

The pregnancy and parenting charity Tommy’s has produced a video encouraging pregnant women to seek support if they feel anxious or depressed. The short clip follows the story of a woman’s journey through pregnancy as she realises she’s not coping and finds someone to talk to.

Around 10-15% of pregnant women experience mental health problems like anxiety and depression [1] but, despite antenatal depression being very similar to postnatal depression, many go undiagnosed and untreated until after the baby is born.

Symptoms of anxiety and depression can include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, irritability, and losing interest in activities that used to be fun.

Most women feel more emotional than usual during pregnancy, but the video urges you to seek help if you notice that you’re unhappy more than half of the time, or if feelings linger for more than a couple of weeks.

When you’re pregnant, it might seem like there’s a pressure on you to feel happy all the time, or to be flushed and glowing with the joys of impending motherhood. If this doesn’t describe your experience, it can be quite distressing and you may even feel guilty for not living up to the expectations of those around you. Your midwife or health visitor will understand. Speak to them and let them know that you need support.

You partner, family, and friends can also offer support, by talking things through with you and offering practical support. Let them know you’re not feeling yourself and that you might need some extra support. If you can, hand some of your regular chores over to your partner, or ask someone to help out. Friends love to feel like they are helping, but sometimes need to be given specific tasks like popping to the shops or watering your plants when they come over.

Try to eat as healthily as possible, take some gentle exercise, and rest whenever you have the opportunity. Getting regular sleep can have a positive impact on your mood. Take time out to focus on yourself and do something you enjoy. Allow yourself a chance to relax and ease some of the pressure.

If you are worried about other areas of your life, such as finances, housing, or your relationship, look into the support available for these specific issues. If you can keep external factors under control, you may find it easier to cope with whatever feelings you are juggling.

Keep talking to your partner. Help them to understand what you’re going through, what you’re doing to try and make things better, and what kind of support you need at home.

References


[1] National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) (2014). Clinical guideline 192: Antenatal and postnatal mental health: clinical management and service guidance https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg192 (Accessed July 2018)

[2] Howard L.M, Molyneaux E, Dennis C et al (2014).  Non-Psychotic mental disorders in the perinatal period.  Lancet 384: 1775-1788.

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