Antenatal depression (ante = before, natal = birth) is also known as prenatal depression. This form of depression affects approximately between 10 and 15% of Australian women during pregnancy.
Feeling uncertain about becoming a mum, or having fears about the pregnancy are just two possible reasons that may lead a pregnant woman to feel unhappy, upset or guilty.
Other factors such as relationship issues, stressful life events during the pregnancy, unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, and financial issues, may also contribute to the development of antenatal depression.
The symptoms of antenatal depression may include:
- Panic attacks;
- Feeling emotionally numb;
- Sleeping issues;
- Thoughts of death or even suicide.
Then, giving birth and adapting to life with a little one can bring added stress. It is not uncommon for mums to experience mood swings after the arrival of a newborn.
What are the Baby Blues?
Some women experience what we call the “Baby Blues” or “3 Day Blues”. The joy of having a baby is temporarily replaced with unexpected feelings such as:
- Sadness, being tearful;
- Difficulty sleeping, and feeling over tired;
- Concentration issues;
- Changes in appetite.
These symptoms of the Baby Blues usually start a few days after giving birth (hence the name “3 day blues”), and can be present for a few days. A case of the Baby Blues is seen as something normal and is generally caused by hormonal changes that happen during the week after giving birth.
But, if the symptoms persist or get worse, it could develop into postnatal depression (PND).
PND can affect all parents, not just first-time parents or mothers only! Studies show that in Australia, 1 in 7 mothers – and 1 in 10 fathers -will experience PND.
There are many possible signs of postnatal depression, from certain feelings and thoughts to behaviours. These may include:
- Tearful and sad;
- Low mood;
Behaviours that may indicate that postnatal depression has become an issue include:
- Difficulty sleeping or over sleeping
- Loss of interest
- Eating issues
- Poor self-care
- Compulsive behaviour
- Lack of motivation.
While experiencing postnatal depression, the individual may experience:
- Worry about harming the baby;
- Thoughts of suicide;
- Thoughts of self-harm.
If you (or your partner) are experiencing symptoms of perinatal depression, seeking treatment from a mental health professional such as a psychologist is the first step to recovery.
Author: Meggy Delaunay, PG Dip Psych Practice, PG Dip Dev Psych, M Genetic Psych, B Psych, MAPS.
Meggy Delaunay is a psychologist with experience in treating individuals experiencing perinatal depression; she is also the mother of three young girls, so is familiar with many of the feelings stirred up by pregnancy and birth. Meggy is a registered Psychologist in Australia, New Zealand and France, and can provide therapy sessions in English and French.
Please call Vision Psychology on 1800 877 924 to make an appointment with Meggy Delaunay, or book online now!