Taking Care of Your Mental Health During Pregnancy
Being pregnant is definitely a state which brings about many changes, not all of them to your advantage. The surge of hormones amplifies all of our feelings, and with the body changing rapidly your whole life takes on a whole different direction. Besides the fact that you need to take care of your physical health in terms of exercise, diet and regular sleep, you also have to pay close attention to your mental wellbeing. Even though it is perfectly normal to experience a certain amount of anxiety while you’re expecting, there are cases in which it tends to exceed healthy limits and cause severe mental problems. However serious it may be, it is not uncommon since one in five mothers to experience such difficulties. In such cases, it is crucial to talk to a professional at the first sign of discomfort.
The signs of depression in pregnancy
Unfortunately, symptoms of depression during pregnancy may go unnoticed. Red flags such as changes in sleep, energy levels, appetite and libido are often attributed to the fact that you have a bun in the oven and are considered normal. However, they may well be signs of a depression onset which you should definitely not ignore. The depression-related stigma is still widely present and the majority of women will be hesitant to confide in their friends, family or their doctors. Even medical professionals still fail to put more emphasis on understanding the challenges of a woman’s prenatal mental health. Here we list some of the telltale signs that something is wrong and you should seek a helping hand.
- You experience feelings of inadequacy about parenthood
- You fail to commit fully to prenatal care
- You indulge in smoking, drinking alcohol or using illicit drugs
- You find no pleasure in activities you used to deem enjoyable
- You maintain a decreased or inadequate diet
- You have suicidal thoughts
- You feel excessive anxiety about the baby
There are many causes for this particular state which count as risk factors – suffering from anxiety, having a stressful lifestyle, family history of depression, unintended pregnancy or partner violence. Whatever the cause may be, keep in mind that the child absorbs the strain its mother feels and may suffer and empathize while still in the womb which makes it a health matter of grave importance. Treatments such as psychotherapy or antidepressants offer a long-term solution and a change for the better.
Apart from depression, there are other mental health issues pregnant women may find themselves experiencing. For instance, episodes of low-energy depression and high-energy mania are signs of a bipolar disorder. Such abrupt and severe mood swings are detrimental to both the mother and the baby to say the least. Panic attacks come without warning as an intense physical response with a feeling of unexplained fear. Eating disorders might also occur in the form of bulimia of anorexia nervosa. Whatever unease you feel at this delicate time, you should not ignore it. Pregnancy doesn’t have to be a burden, but you have to be open to solutions to your problems.
How to get help
The first and most important thing is coming to terms with the fact that something is wrong, so that you may openly confront the situation and seek adequate help. Speak to your doctor openly about your own or your family’s medical history. They will surely know the best course of action to take, from the importance of your diet and sleep regime during pregnancy to sessions with a counselor or a therapist. Seek support from your loved ones. You might hesitate, but your family and friends play a pivotal role on the way to recovery. Otherwise, you might be tempted to relieve the symptoms by using alcohol or drugs which is, needless to say, extremely detrimental to you, the baby and your surroundings. If you feel more at ease, let someone accompany you to the recommended sessions. Eating and sleeping well will improve your overall health and mood, and you will feel that much-needed vigor to fight. Do not hesitate, and do not give up – the sooner you start the treatment, the better you will feel.