Posts tagged ‘pregnant and depressed’

October 3, 2011

Depression in Pregnancy?

Pregnant and depressed sounds weird to me. It just doesn’t seem “right.”

Previously, I assumed pregnancy was always the happiest time in a woman’s life. It had always been in mine. I truly had no idea depression in pregnancy was a real thing until I began to experience it myself. I wrongly thought anyone who was depressed during pregnancy was either already depressed before falling pregnant or the mom really didn’t want the baby. That’s so harsh and I realize it now, but I didn’t understand that a pregnancy could in fact cause depression.

After writing this post yesterday, I realized how little I knew about what I was experiencing and how much I needed to know more. So I started searching, Googling, looking for others who were or had experienced what I am. To my surprise, I discovered it’s not that uncommon.

Shockingly (at least to me), it is more common than postpartum depression. Anywhere from 5-25% of women will experience prenatal depression. How had I not heard of this before? With all of my researching, reading, and discussing with fellow mamas, this is a topic I am not sure I have ever been faced with until now. How? More importantly, why???

I found this in one study I read, “We were surprised by the paucity of such evidence in this area. If one assumes that perinatal depression is a significant mental health and public health problem, then larger scale studies are needed that involve each of these domains. The small number and small size of relevant studies are not adequate to guide national policy.”

Turns out, similar to PPD, many mamas are simply too embarrassed or ashamed to discuss being depressed during pregnancy. Pregnancy is supposed to be a happy time, right? Women going through it often feel alone and afraid and do not want to acknowledge what they are experiencing. Some believe it is a regular part of pregnancy since the symptoms of pregnancy and prenatal depression can be very similar. Others do mention it, but their doctors blow it off as being “normal pregnancy symptoms.”

I am pretty sure I am experiencing prenatal depression and I don’t really understand why. I have had unexpected pregnancies before. Only one of my children was “planned.” I don’t recall ever feeling this low. Yes, I had my moments in each pregnancy and the planned one was by far the happiest, but I don’t remember feeling so hopeless and lost.

Here is a list of possible reasons for prenatal depression to occur:

• A woman who has a history of depression
• Substance abuse
• A family history of mental illness
• Little support from family and friends
• Sudden change in life ( a move, separation from spouse, etc.)
• Anxiety about the fetus
• Problems with a previous pregnancy or birth
• Giving birth at a young age
• Marital or financial problems

It is said that prenatal depression is more likely to occur during the first and third trimester as that is when hormones fluctuate the most. However, that is not the case for all women. I have been experiencing it since the first trimester, but it didn’t magically go away when I reached the second trimester like I thought (really, really hoped) it would. It almost seems like it has gotten worse. For some it continues throughout their entire pregnancy. This can be very scary as depression that occurs during pregnancy is associated with a threefold increase in the risk of postpartum depression.

For me, the symptoms of depression have been problems sleeping, disinterest in my normal activities, and an overall inability to just be happy…about anything. I also don’t feel attached to this baby at all, which is killing me and no doubt making things worse.

General symptoms of prenatal depression are:

• Feeling very sad, anxious or cranky
• Frequent crying
• Not feeling up to doing daily tasks
• Not feeling hungry, or eating when not hungry
• Not wanting to take care of yourself (dress, shower, fix hair)
• Trouble sleeping when tired, or sleeping too much
• Things don’t seem fun or interesting anymore
• Trouble concentrating
• Feeling hopeless
• Trouble making decisions
• Worrying too much about the baby or not caring about the baby

If you are experiencing this or you know someone who is, you probably don’t care about causes or symptoms. You probably just want to know how to make it stop, how to help someone feel better, or how to go back to feeling like yourself.

Unfortunately, there is no definative answer. Therapy can be a great help, being able to express yourself without judgement and getting positive feedback can have a large hand in helping you feel better. Adding supplements, changing your diet, changing prenatals, and/or starting an exercise regimen can help too. Sometimes doing everything “right” cannot help entirely and medication is prescribed. Many women are uncomfortable with this and understandably so, so be sure to address any concerns you may have with your healthcare provider.

Whatever treatment you decide is best for you, it is most important that you seek help. If your provider is unresponsive or tells you it is normal, do not let them make you feel you are wrong about your own feelings. You know yourself better than any body else and no matter how difficult it is to confront your doctor or midwife, be sure you are heard. If you still feel you are being ignored, seek a second opinion. Studies show stress and anxiety in pregnancy can significantly effect your baby and with the risks associated with prenatal depression and postpartum, it is best not to think you can deal with it on your own. Remember, you are not alone. Reach out, there is always someone waiting to help. 

Here are some informative and useful links:

Breaking The Silence On Prenatal Depression

Prenatal Depression Info

Baby Blues Connection

I Battled Prenatal Depression

Please feel free to e-mail me if you would like someone to talk to. I am happy to help however I can, although I cannot promise I can do more right now than understand.

October 1, 2011

Talk it Out

When my kids do something that is less than desirable, my main goal is to find out why they did it and how to stop it. We talk it out. Yes, even with the two year old. He may not be able to verbally express himself like his nine year old sister, but he can communicate. If he can learn that communication works he may stop with the hitting and just start talking. We’ll see..

Now that I am dealing with a lot of mixed emotions about this pregnancy and feeling a little (a lot!) all over the map, I finally came to the realization that I need to talk it out or I am going to possibly have a nervous breakdown. So here we go.

This pregnancy has brought with it joy, excitement, and some certainty. The kids are on pins and needles waiting to find out if this baby is a girl or another boy. My parents took the news surprisingly well, which was unexpected. My husband is excited, which truthfully was unexpected too. And I am positive I am really, really done having children. It is like something turned off inside of me, I have no desire for more now.

Unfortunately this pregnancy has also brought with it so much confusion for me. First of all, it was a complete shock. We had recently decided that we were done having children. We had been going back and forth for at least a year on the topic of more. Being unsure brought us to the conclusion that we should just quit while we were ahead. After almost five years of off and on struggle financially and finally making some real head way in that area, it felt like we should continue to focus on that and the four children we already had. My husband scheduled a consult with our primary doctor and we prepared for that door to shut. Del’s appointment was pushed due to the doctor’s schedule and then he had to go out of the area for two weeks for work. While Del was gone, I found out I was unexpectedly expecting.

At first I felt it to be very surreal, that there was no way it was happening. As the days passed and the second line continued to darken an almost dread began to build within me. What now? With my husband away and no one to confide it, I started feeling a bit lost. Del obviously knows now as do most of our friends and family, but I am still stuck with this feeling of uncertainty. It seems like everyone I expected to be unhappy about this pregnancy is actually the opposite, and the only person I thought would be happy if I got pregnant again, isn’t.

I feel so guilty. I wish I could change my feelings, but I can’t. I try every day to be happy and upbeat, but by the day’s end I feel out of control and an overall feeling of sadness. Why do I feel this way? Why can’t I make it go away? How did I even get here?

I have been taking my vitamins every day. I am trying to exercise daily even when I don’t feel like it. I am really struggling to keep a good diet going, but that doesn’t mean I am not trying. Unfortunately for baby and I, I am an emotional eater and my emotions have run away with me.

I want to cry, but I won’t allow it. I don’t feel I deserve the tears. Those belong to mothers who have lost their babies, their pregnancies. Tears belong to women that can’t conceive, not to a woman with a relatively good life, four beautiful children who look up to me and with one on the way, and a husband who is a great man and father. I should be shouting from the rooftops how happy I am, how excited I am to have another opportunity to birth a child, to better myself, to enrich my family and our life, but instead I am wallowing in self pity. I am angry at myself for doing so and yet still stuck in it all the same.

Unlike some years ago, I have no doubt I can overcome this. This will not be my life forever. I can and will get better. The problem I face right now is how and getting passed the guilt I have for inflicting these emotions and uncertain feelings on my unborn child.

I feel very alone, but I know from experience this is rarely the truth. That is why I chose to share this very personal information so publicly. Maybe it can help someone out there. Maybe, hopefully, just getting it out can help alleviate a bit of it for me. Either way, typing it out has helped slightly for now. So thanks.