Navigation Links Explains How to Spot the Signs of Antenatal and Postnatal Depression

While many women will have heard of the 'baby blues' and postnatal depression, some may be surprised to hear that depression during pregnancy is also quite common - this is referred to as 'antenatal depression.' tells you how to spot the signs, discover the causes and find out how you can help if you experience any of these conditions.

London, England (PRWEB) February 24, 2009 -- Becoming a mum is an incredible, life-changing experience. However, although many mums-to-be enjoy pregnancy, for others it can be a less enjoyable time. Most women will have heard of the term 'Postnatal Depression' which is a condition that affects up to 15% of mums after they have a baby.

The 'baby blues' is also a familiar term to many and refers to the emotional lows that many mums experience in those first few all-consuming weeks of parenthood. What many do not know, however, is that approximately one in ten women will suffer from depression during pregnancy - this is referred to as 'antenatal depression.' With both antenatal and postnatal depression, it's important to recognise the symptoms so that you know what to look out for; also, as with any medical condition, the earlier you seek treatment the better.

What is Antenatal Depression?

It's entirely normal to experience some mood swings and emotional highs and lows during pregnancy, as your hormones are all over the place and you're undergoing changes of both a physical and emotional nature. If these feelings are prolonged, however, or become more severe, then it could be an indication of antenatal depression

What are the symptoms?

There are various symptoms to look out for which might indicate antenatal depression. These include:

  • feeding and/or sleeping problems,
  • compulsions such as constant hand-washing,
  • low self-esteem
  • excessive crying and feelings of anxiety or panic
  • agoraphobia
  • feeling isolated
  • a pessimistic outlook on life
  • a general lack of interest in anything

What are the causes?

Anyone can suffer from antenatal depression, but you are more likely to experience it if you:

  • have a history of depression,
  • have a complicated pregnancy
  • lack support from friends and family members

How can I help?

If you suffer from antenatal depression, the following suggestions might help:

  • eat a healthy diet, one which includes folic acid, protein, calcium, carbohydrates, iron and Vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D
  • taking gentle forms of exercise, such as walking, pregnancy yoga and swimming
  • don't bottle your emotions up - talk to those around you
  • meet other pregnant mums; through joining a pregnancy yoga group or attending antenatal classes, for example
  • most importantly, consult your GP; he will assess your condition and may prescribe anti-depressants or refer you to a counsellor

Postnatal depression

The depression that some mums experience after having a baby is referred to as postnatal depression.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Postnatal Depression are fairly similar to those of Antenatal Depression and include:

  • apathy
  • an inability to enjoy anything
  • feelings of irritability
  • excessive crying,
  • a lack of appetite
  • trouble sleeping
  • overwhelming feelings of sadness or despair
  • anxiety
  • a sense that you can't cope with the demands of a newborn
  • compulsions
  • low energy levels

What are the causes?

Although anyone can suffer from postnatal depression, there are incidences which can make it more likely. For example, you may be more likely to develop PND if:

  • you have undergone major life changes during pregnancy
  • you lack support from family and friends
  • your baby is experiencing health problems
  • you have a history of depression
  • your baby was unplanned or unwanted
  • loss of sleep and/or appetite
  • anxiety
  • panic attacks

How can I help?

  • as with any form of depression, the best course of action to take is to seek medical advice immediately. Your doctor may prescribe anti-depressants or suggest counselling
  • share the parenting responsibilities with those around you
  • talk to others about how you're feeling; don't bottle up your emotions
  • avoid the temptation to blame yourself or feel guilty; remember that this is not your fault
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet

The baby blues

Although you may well have heard of the baby blues, you might be wondering exactly what they are. This condition is in fact very common - it's been suggested that as many as 70% of new mums experience a degree of the baby blues - and they do not indicate postnatal depression.

What are the symptoms?

If you suffer from a bout of the baby blues, you may:

  • be emotional
  • feel weepy
  • feel irritable
  • be anxious.
  • have trouble sleeping
  • experience a change in appetite

What are the causes?

Hormonal changes following birth are often cited as the main cause of the baby blues.

Although the symptoms listed above may sound similar to those of postnatal depression, they take on a much milder form and usually only last a very short period of time. If you do experience the baby blues, they are likely to set in within 2 weeks of having your baby.

How can I help?

There are various ways in which you can help yourself if you suffer from the baby blues. You can:

  • share the parenting responsibilities with your partner,
  • ask for help from friends and relatives
  • take some gentle exercise to release feel-good endorphins - this will help by improving your sense of wellbeing.
  • Have naps wherever possible
  • Be reassured by the fact that the baby blues usually clear up soon and of their own accord


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