Pregnancy (antenatal, prenatal) depression can affect around one in eight pregnant women. No doubt this has been around for a very long time but is only recently scientifically and medically being recognised as a significant issue for some pregnant women, perhaps even as common as postnatal depression.
Pregnancy naturally causes peaks and troughs in general mood, due to hormones, physical changes and stress associated with the pregnancy, but if you feel that your mood is low more than you are feeling happy and you are feeling particularly anxious, you should talk to your GP or midwife. The earlier you are able to seek help and put support in place, the better you will feel moving into the birth and postnatal phase.
Postnatal Depression and anxiety counselling at this stage can be helpful in talking through your low mood and putting into place coping mechanisms.
In general terms, ‘baby blues’ is a common experience for new mums and tends to occur soon after birth and up to 10 days after baby is born. ‘Baby blues’ is generally associated with the hormonal changes following birth and can lead to low mood and tearfulness.
Postnatal depression, however, is where the low mood lasts for weeks or months, and is often associated with other ‘symptoms’ such as anxiety and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Postnatal depression is said to affect approximately 1 in 10 women and can occur any time in the year after your baby is born and can continue into the second year after birth.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and not everyone will experience the same symptoms, you are the best guide as to how you feel. Sometimes, it is hard to realise you are feeling depressed and you may need to rely on feedback from those who know you, such as your partner, family and close friends.
Talking to your GP, midwife or Health Visitor about any concerns you have is vital in putting into place the help and support you may need. This is especially important if you are experiencing thoughts about self harm or suicide. Sometimes having someone to go with you to the GP can be helpful.
This is a serious but rare postnatal disorder that occurs in the days and weeks after baby arrives. The symptoms tend to be extreme, whether it is low mood, mania, hallucinations and thoughts about harming yourself or your baby. This is a medical emergency and usually requires hospitalisation.
If you or your partner/family have any concerns please seek help from your GP immediately.
Counselling for pregnancy and postnatal depression alongside any medical input can be beneficial as it provides the opportunity to talk through how you are feeling and to put into place coping mechanisms. Counselling offers support along side medication from your doctor; it is important to discuss this with your doctor and counsellor for an effective collaborative approach.