Pregnancy can be a time of emotional highs and lows. For some women, however, the lows are persistent and interfere with daily life. Depression during pregnancy (or antenatal depression) is an under-recognised condition experienced by approximately 9% of women at any given time during pregnancy. The symptoms of antenatal depression are no different to the symptoms of depression at other times during one’s life, but can be compounded by the fact that women may also be experiencing other physical symptoms as a result of being pregnant.
Depression can start at any time during pregnancy and can come on suddenly or develop gradually. It may persist for many months.
Depression during pregnancy does not mean that a woman will have postnatal depression, however about 50% of women suffering from severe depression during pregnancy go on to develop postnatal depression. Therapy during pregnancy can reduce the chances of developing postnatal depression dramatically.
SYMPTOMS OF ANTENATAL DEPRESSION
A woman may be suffering from antenatal depression if she feels some of the following symptoms during her pregnancy, usually daily over a period of three to four weeks:
- Inability to concentrate and difficulty remembering
- Difficulty making decisions
- Anxiety about the pregnancy or becoming parents
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Extreme irritability
- Sleep problems not related to the pregnancy
- Extreme or unending fatigue
- A desire to eat all the time or not wanting to eat at all
- Weight loss or weight gain not related to pregnancy
- Loss of interest in sex
- A sense that nothing feels enjoyable or fun anymore, including the pregnancy
- Feeling like a failure, feelings of guilt
- Persistent sadness
- Thoughts of death or suicide.