There are many physical changes that your body experiences during pregnancy that are obvious to you and everyone else. These changes, along with various circumstances you may be facing when preparing to welcome a new baby into the world can certainly take a toll on your mental health. Your hormones are ever-changing as well, so even if you have little stress about your pregnancy situation—your body is still adjusting to new hormone levels.
Depression and Anxiety
Taking care of your mental health during your pregnancy is just as important as taking care of your physical health. Studies tell us that women are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression during pregnancy and their first year postpartum than any other time in their lives. In fact, up to 20% of pregnant woman deal with mood or anxiety disorders (Psychiatric Disorders During Pregnancy (womensmentalhealth.org)). If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, please know that you are not alone. Talk with someone who understands and can help.
First and Foremost – if you are having thoughts of harming yourself or others, please reach out to a medical professional to receive the help that you need. Dial 9-8-8 to reach the new suicide and crisis lifeline immediately. First and foremost
One of the most common mood disorders women may experience during pregnancy is depression. This is defined as a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in normal daily activities. Symptoms may include changes in sleep, energy level, appetite and libido– which are similar to symptoms of pregnancy. However, there are other signs to pay attention to such as:
- Excessive anxiety about your baby
- Low self-esteem, such as feelings of inadequacy about parenthood
- The inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable
- Poor response to reassurance
- Poor adherence to prenatal care
- Smoking, drinking alcohol or using illicit drugs
- Poor weight gain due to a decreased or inadequate diet
- Thoughts of suicide
If you think you might be dealing with depression, contact your healthcare provider as soon as you’re able. They will provide a screening of questions and then determine the next appropriate steps to help you to begin to feel back to yourself again. Additionally, taking care of yourself when you are pregnant parallels with taking care of your baby. If you are not properly caring for yourself, then your developing baby is not getting all that he or she needs.
Anxiety disorder is another mood disorder that many women struggle with, whether pregnant or not. It is a persistent feeling of worry, stress or fear that is strong enough to interfere with your daily life (Anxiety During Pregnancy | Lifespan). While it is completely normal to feel a little anxious about bringing a new life into this world- it is not considered normal, nor is it healthy, if those thoughts consume you throughout the day. Common symptoms of anxiety disorder include:
- Feeling nervous, anxious or on edge frequently
- An uncontrollable sense of anxiousness
- Worrying excessively about things, especially your health or your baby
- Finding it difficult or impossible to relax
- Feeling restless and hard to stay still
- Feeling irritable and agitated
- Feeling afraid, or thinking that bad things will happen
- Inability to concentrate
- Difficulty sleeping
Other physical symptoms include a racing heartbeat and rapid breathing, dizziness, lightheadedness or feeling faint, shortness of breath, excessive sweating, tension, pain or trembling in your muscles and a numb or tingling feeling in your limbs, fingers, toes or lips. These symptoms can feel debilitating, and if they come on quickly and intensely, they are considered to be a panic attack (Anxiety During Pregnancy | Lifespan). The physical effects of anxiety could potentially risk both your health and your baby’s health, so again, it is important to talk to your healthcare professional if you feel that you may have an anxiety disorder.
You can get help
Typical treatments for both depression and anxiety during pregnancy may involve counseling, support groups, or medication. You can also make some changes at home to help manage your symptoms, and to put your own health and well-being first. Getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating healthy are other things you can do to help manage your mental health.
When you are feeling better, you will be able to better enjoy your pregnancy, and prepare yourself to welcome your new baby into the world. If you need additional support, please contact us. We’d love to walk with you during your pregnancy journey.