I found it shocking that while I was looking for some information on how many women in the UK had Antenatal depression all that I could find was statistics on postnatal depression. This has surprised me as antenatal depression needs to be out there in the public eye just as much as any other. But from what I could find it seems that antenatal depression will affect 12%-13% /1 in 8 of pregnant mothers and 1/3 of them will go on to have postnatal depression.
Signs and symptoms of antenatal depression
Antenatal depression can begin at any point during pregnancy and is characterised as having a higher than normal level of worry about the impending birth and parenthood. Symptoms include lack of energy, feeling emotionally detached, tearfulness, chronic anxiety and feeling isolated and guilty.
What can you do if you think you have antenatal depression?
It may be helpful to think about these recommendations, made by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, during pregnancy:
Don’t try to be ‘superwoman’. Try to do less and make sure that you don’t get over-tired.
Find someone you can talk to. If you don’t have a close friend you can turn to, try NCT’s Early Days groups. Your local group can be very supportive both before and after childbirth.
Go to antenatal classes. If you have a partner, take them with you. If not, take a friend or relative.
Don’t stop (or change) antidepressant medication during pregnancy without medical advice. Around seven in 10 women who stop antidepressants in pregnancy relapse if they stop their medication. You need to discuss the risks and benefits of continuing treatment in pregnancy and while breastfeeding (see section below).
Keep in touch with your GP and your health visitor if you have had depression before. Any signs of depression in pregnancy or PND can be recognised early.
Make sure that you have treatment for depression in pregnancy. This may be a talking therapy or medication.
Accept offers of help from friends and family.
Postnatal depression (PND) is more likely to occur if you have experienced depression before
Signs and Symptoms are taken from NCT website
Antenatal depression can hit anyone at anytime and doesn’t have to be with all your pregnancies either. I had happy healthy pregnancies with my first two and my 4th but I really struggled with my 3rd. I remember thinking I wanted the baby out of me and I needed space and my body back as struggled to cope having the baby there constantly and then having 2 young children on me and pulling at me all at the same time. I remember feeling I wasn’t enough and wasn’t doing enough for the children and the pregnancy or simple things seemed to become so hard to do and I struggled to make myself go out the house and do things as simple as food shopping. I cry and get frustrated with the husband a lot and if he did anything wrong it would frustrate me completely and just keep going round and round my head almost as though I just couldn’t let it go. I stopped going to a Friday meet up with ladies I had known for years because I couldn’t do it, first I used the excuse of not going on the buses as they weren’t very often then I passed my driving test and as we had to share a car I used that as an excuse of not going out as their dad had car.
I remember talking to the midwife about how I was feeling and having to book in with the doctor who she got me in with that day and just sitting in his room crying my eyes out telling him how I felt and that I feel silly for feeling like it but I just couldn’t help it. But he really surprised me for being an older man who you would expect to have just said get on with it he passed me tissues listened and didn’t brush me off. We ended up putting me on antidepressants and referring me for counselling. I had the midwife pop and see me a few times over the next few weeks to see how I was and how I was coping. I also had a company called Homestart start working with me who have volunteers come to take you out/look after the little ones while you did something simple like have a bath but most of all they come and just sit and talk over a cuppa. That was the best part knowing that they wanted to be there not just being paid to be. I don’t think I would have coped all the way though the end of my pregnancy if it wasn’t for my volunteer she really was fantastic.
One of the biggest things that we find the hardest is to ask for help as we think it makes us weak but in fact it is the strongest thing we can do. Its what midwifes are there for if your struggling let them know as they can not help you when you are telling them its all alright and your feeling fine. That first step is the biggest and the scariest one you will take but once you ask them for help you will feel a weight lifted and they can get the right people into help you when you really need it. I for one was a stubborn grouch and still am but im glad I put my brave pants on that day as I got to enjoy the end of my pregnancy and know that how I was feeling wasn’t worry or just me but many others felt the same way too and I wasn’t broken.
If you would like to have some more information I have taken the Signs and symptoms from here: https://www.nct.org.uk/pregnancy/antenatal-depression
They have so much more information on there about antenatal depression then I could use.