Depression can be a sensitive topic. It's typically a private condition and it can be difficult for many of us to talk about our feelings.
During pregnancy, you will experience an extensive range of emotions. These may range from bliss and excitement to stress or even fear. The changes your physical body goes through can also affect how you feel and react in different situations.
It's important to acknowledge that there isn t a right or wrong way to feel and behave during pregnancy. Every pregnancy and every mother is unique and ideally, you'll feel confident in your ability to get through this major life event the best you can.
If you are unsure about whether you or even a close friend is struggling, speak with someone you trust. Depression during pregnancy is surprisingly common and it's important that you know you are not alone. Australian research shows that ante natal depression affects as many as one in every 10 women.
The causes of depression during pregnancy
Pregnancy can be a wonderful time for many women. For others the discomfort and anxiety that often comes with pregnancy can become too much. This combination can leave many women particularly vulnerable to depression.
As well as the general physical discomforts of pregnancy, if other aspects of your life aren't going so well, you may become even more vulnerable. Some of the common causes of depression during pregnancy include:
- Relationship tension with partner, family or friends
- Complications with current or a previous pregnancy
- Stressful life events
- Low income and other financial stresses
- Fertility struggles
- Current or previous abuse
- Family or personal history of depression or other mental health issues
- Having an unplanned baby
- Having a multiple pregnancy
- Worrying about the baby
The symptoms of depression during pregnancy
It can be easy to miss the signs of depression in pregnancy. Moodiness and surges of emotion are common symptoms. But depression can become a dangerous problem for some pregnant women if it's left untreated.
The signs of depression also vary from person to person, but there are some common signs to look out for. Here is a short list of some of the symptoms that you might have if you are suffering from depression:
- Persistent anxiety
- Extreme irritability
- Constant issues with sleeping
- Chronic fatigue
- An endless appetite or loss of appetite all together
- Change in libido
- Not being able to enjoy situations you usually get pleasure from
- Not feeling much joy at all
- Constantly feeling sad.
- Crying a lot
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your other children
- Feeling isolated and alone or even disconnected from other people
Treating depression during pregnancy
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, speak to your maternity care provider as soon as possible. If you're struggling to take care of yourself and feel that you may be neglecting your health, you and even your unborn baby might be at risk.
Seeing a professional about how you are feeling is not a sign of weakness. It's a sign, in fact, that your maternal instincts are strong and protective and you want to feel better. It takes courage to ask for help. Be proud of taking the necessary steps to keep you and your baby safe.
Left untreated, chronic depression can make pregnancy a miserable time. It can also lead to further complications and risks. If you feel that you may need to start taking anti-depression medication, be sure to talk to your chosen healthcare professional first. It's important that you are aware of any associated risks with taking any type of medication during pregnancy.
If you want to explore this anonymously, PANDA Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia has an online Mental Health Checklist for Expecting and New Parents. This is a free tool for expecting and new parents who are worried about their mental health to fill out online anonymously to assess their emotional and mental well being. Access the Checklist here. Checklist
Speak to a professional:
If you prefer to talk to a professional from the comfort of your own home, there are some anonymous hotlines you can call. See list below.
PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) offers information, support and referrals to women and their families who are suffering from post and antenatal depression.
Tel: 1300 726 306 (Mon-Fri 9am-7:30pm AEST)
Beyond Blue provides information on depression, anxiety and related disorders, and referrals.
Tel: 1300 22 46 36
Depression helpline New Zealand provides 24 hour professional support and advice for your situation.
Tel: 0800 111 757 (free)
You are of course, also welcome to jump on the Huggies Forum and talk to other pregnant mums who are going through tough times just like you.
Last Published* December, 2022
*Please note that the published date may not be the same as the date that the content was created and that information above may have changed since.