October 28, 2012
Kelly remembers experiencing depression during her first pregnancy. Although she did not identify what she was experiencing at the time, looking back she realizes that she was depressed during her pregnancy. She had so many life changes going on that it is no wonder she was overwhelmed. Kelly got pregnant in August, started a job in September, got married in October and moved in December. If that was not enough, when she was 7 months pregnant her best friend died unexpectedly. Kelly new she was experiencing difficulties but she didn’t know she needed help.
Kelly is not alone. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), between 14 to 23% of women will struggle with some symptoms of depression during pregnancy. Because one to four women will experience depression at some time during their lives, it is not surprising that pregnancy can be one of those times.
The American Pregnancy Association is a national health organization committed to promoting reproductive and pregnancy wellness through education, research, advocacy, and community awareness. The Association states that depression during pregnancy is not properly diagnosed because people think it is just another type of hormonal imbalance.
In the case of Anglena, she had experienced postpartum depression after the birth of her first child but was stable when she got pregnant with her second child. Anglena had a history of Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder prior to her pregnancies but both seemed to be under control when she was pregnant with her second child. However, when she was 5 1/2 months pregnant, she began to have difficulty sleeping. This led to irritability, agitation and guilt. All of which can be symptoms of depression. She did not identify them as such and dismissed them as hormonal and pregnancy related.
Thankfully, in Kelly’s and Anglena’s cases, they eventually got help but not until things escalated and got worse after the their babies were born. It seems that often the symptoms of depression and anxiety during pregnancy are often dismissed as “normal” or related to changes in hormones. But, in reality, if a pregnant woman is experiencing any of the following symptoms, she should seek professional help, preferably professionals with experiencing treating women experiencing mental health issues related to childbearing.
- Trouble sleeping
- Sleeping too much
- Lack of interest
- Feelings of guilt
- Loss of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in appetite
- Restlessness, agitation or slowed movement
- Thoughts or ideas about suicide
So if you are pregnant and experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, please know that there is help available. You should not feel ashamed or guilty because you are not to blame and you are not alone.
The information on this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical or psychological condition. Please consult with your healthcare provider for individual advice regarding your own situation.
RESOURCES AND ADDITIONAL READING:
American Pregnancy Association: Depression During Pregnancy
March of Dimes: Pregnancy Complications
Depression during and after pregnancy fact sheet
Coping With Depression During Pregnancy
Depression During Pregnancy & Postpartum
Postpartum Support International