Ante Natal Depression and Anxiety

With all the practical, emotional and hormonal adjustments of pregnancy, ups and downs are to be expected. But if you find yourself (or your partner) affected by the following, you might be one of the 10 percent of women experiencing Antenatal Depression or Anxiety, and it's time to get some help.

  • a persistent sense of dread
  • heightened anxiety
  • feeling hopeless or unable to enjoy things that usually bring pleasure
  • significant changes to eating or sleeping habits (not related to pregnancy)
  • a persistent lack of motivation
  • uncontrollable crying
  • If left untreated, AND can lead to a higher risk of Post Natal Depression, so speak to your midwife, GP or health care professional. Improving your relationship with your partner, getting more support and using natural therapies can also help.

    Post Natal Depression and Anxiety

    It's normal for mothers to feel a bit "down" for a few days after a new baby arrives. A combination of hormones, a natural feeling of anti-climax following the excitement of birth and several nights of sleep deprivation are a sure-fire mix for the blues. For most women this will pass naturally.

    Some women however, will experience a period of depression that is more severe. Sometimes it comes on gradually, sometimes suddenly. It may last for days, or weeks, or months. The severity can range from a general feeling of sadness or apathy to feelings of worthlessness and thoughts of suicide. The longer it lasts, the more it is likely to affect Mums and their families, so it is best to seek help and support as early as possible if you think that one of these Mums might be you.

    Symptoms may include:
  • Loss of enjoyment in usual pursuits
  • Emotional detachment
  • Loss of self-esteem and confidence
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Broken sleep (irrespective of baby)
  • Sense of hopelessness and being a failure
  • A wish not to be alive
  • Frank suicidal thoughts or ideas
  • Thinking about running away from everything
  • Sense of being overwhelmed by the future
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, checking behaviour
  • Worrying about your partner leaving
  • Worrying about harm or death occurring to partner or baby
  • Obsessive thoughts, inability to think clearly or make decisions
  • Lack of concentration and poor memory
  • Irritability
  • Continued loss of libido
  • Fears for babyís or partnerís safety or wellbeing
  • Unexplained physical aches and pains
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed or worthless
  • Feeling exhausted, empty, sad, tearful
  • Fear of being alone or going out
  • There are a number of things that can contribute to Post Natal Depression (PND) the combination of which will be different for each woman. Social situations such as isolation from friends and extended family, unfamiliarity with a new community and a lack of practical and emotional support can contribute to PND. Biological factors include hormonal fluctuations, alterations in the brain chemistry that control our moods and/or a history of depression. Psychological factors include the impact of unmet expectations of parenthood, changing roles and our own self-image. Emotional factors include how we manage the many and varied feelings that can accompany new motherhood - the shock of childbirth, the fear of losing control, the anxiety of not coping or the feelings of being overwhelmed.

    Just as there is no single cause, there is no "one size fits all" treatment: PND should therefore be assessed and treated on different levels. We can use a number of resources when seeking treatment: our early childhood nurse, information from books, magazine articles or the internet. Self-education is important so we can be informed and decide what treatment is right for us. We can also seek counselling to work through psychological and emotional issues, support groups to alleviate isolation and loneliness, and also the advice of a trusted doctor. There is plenty of support out there - sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to ask for it.

    A good place to start is the many wonderfully supportive organisations out there who are just waiting to help. Refer to the links or the Community page for more information.

    Disclaimer: The information in this web-site is of a general nature and starting point only and not meant as sufficient advice for individual problems. For personal concerns about yourself, partner or child, please seek support from a professional counsellor or health practitioner. With respect, the author does not take responsibility for the effects of your use of this information.© E. Taylor 2011

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