Depression that occurs during pregnancy or within a year after delivery is called perinatal depression. Researchers believe that depression is one of the most common complications during and after pregnancy. Often, the depression is not recognized or treated, because some normal pregnancy changes cause similar symptoms and are happening at the same time. These include; sleeping problems, tiredness, intense emotional reactions, etc.
Depression after pregnancy is called Postpartum Depression – . After pregnancy, hormonal changes in a woman’s body may trigger symptoms of depression.
During pregnancy, the amount of two female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) increase greatly. In the first 24 hours after childbirth, the levels of these hormones drop rapidly. It is believed that fast change in hormone levels is one of the factors that leads to depression. Other factors include; sleep deprivation, tiredness, ,feeling overwhelmed about handling the baby (feeling insecured, doubting your abilities to be a good mother), , stress from work and home routines, poor support system, conflicts with your partner, loss of identity and independence, etc.
Any of these symptoms during and after pregnancy that last longer than two weeks are signs of depression.
- Feeling restless or irritable
- Feeling sad, hopeless, and overwhelmed
- crying a lot
- Having no energy or motivation
- Eating too little or too much
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Trouble focusing, remembering, or making decisions
- Feeling worthless and guilty
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Having headaches, chest pains, heart palpitations or hyperventilation
- Get as much rest as you can. Nap when the baby naps
- Ask for help with household chores and nighttime feedings.
- Talk to your partner, family, and friends about how you feel
- Don’t spend a lot of time alone. Get dressed and leave the house. Run an errand or take a short walk.
- Join a support group
- Spend time alone with your partner
- Get professional help. Therapy can help you understand your emotions, learn effective coping skills and techniques to manage this stage, and be able to overcome your depression and enjoy your motherhood.