When a Dark Veil Seems to Overshadow Everything...
Pregnant and unable to muster up any positive emotions? Many women struggle with feeling down for part of their pregnancy — and the cause is often purely physical!
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Signs of Prenatal Depression
Indicators of Prenatal Depression (aka, antepartum depression):
- You are not feeling even a hint of joy right now and pursuing your usual hobbies does not make it better.
- Upon waking up, you just want to pull the covers up over your head and stay in bed all day.
- Everything is an effort: thinking, focusing, everyday life — you simply don't have the energy for it.
- You have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, tossing and turning in your bed for most of the night. Or you feel tired and exhausted all the time, longing for your bed.
- Your mind is constantly going, but never arriving at any conclusion. You feel an intense inner restlessness.
- Everything seems covered by a dark veil. Life feels overwhelming and exhausting.
- You lack appetite or you are constantly thinking about food, snacking more than usual.
If you have been experiencing these kinds of symptoms for a while, you could be going through prenatal depression.
Frequency and Causes
Depression is a very common mental illness. 15-20% of people suffer from it at some point in their lives.
The exact cause of a depression cannot always be determined, because multiple factors usually play a role.
Physical Causes (in Pregnancy)
Some people are more prone to depression simply because of their biological make-up. They either have a genetic predisposition towards depression or a chemical imbalance of the neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine, in the brain.
During pregnancy, hormonal and physical changes play a large role in triggering emotions.
Oftentimes, it is initially difficult to recognize prenatal depression, since hormonal changes cause most women to be more sensitive. In early pregnancy, hormones cause women to feel tired and down, while morning sickness can be taxing, making joy hard to come by.
Should these symptoms be severe and persistent, without intervals of elation or rest, you are likely dealing with prenatal depression.
An acutely stressful situation can cause a dormant pre-existing condition to take effect, allowing depression to develop. This is usually recognizable by the symptoms listed above.
A change in life circumstances due to a pregnancy can intensify this tendency.
Treatment - There is Hope!
There is hope, even if your situation seems hopeless to you at the moment:
- (Prenatal) depression is usually easily treatable.
- With proper care, it usually subsides after a few weeks (or months).
Consult your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect that you may be suffering from pregnancy-related depression. You can get out of this situation!
Some medications for depression are safe during pregnancy. They have no negative effects on the pregnancy or on the baby. Extensive studies on this subject have proven some antidepressants to be safe during pregnancy.
After your doctor initially prescribes an antidepressant, it will have to build up an effective presence in your blood - this requires a little patience. You should start feeling an improvement within two weeks.
ℹ️ Antidepressants are usually only taken temporarily and are also non-addictive (unlike benzodiazepines). Any fear of addiction is unfounded.
Since depression usually involves a chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters, antidepressants compensate this serotonin or norepinephrine deficiency.
You have all reason to assume that your emotional state will improve quickly after starting on medication. Receiving counseling can also be very helpful, especially when paired with medication.
If your symptoms are not disruptive to everyday life, you may want to try counseling before resorting to medication.
If You Have Suffered From Depression Before
If you have experienced depression before becoming pregnant, you may have already tried antidepressants. You may now be wondering whether it is safe to continue your medication during pregnancy. Consult your doctor as soon as possible!
📍Note: Do not abruptly discontinue a drug without first consulting your doctor! This could lead to a worsening of your symptoms. In all likelihood, you will be able to safely continue taking the antidepressant.
Want to know if a specific medication is safe during pregnancy? Go to mothertobaby.org.
First Aid Tips
Here are some suggestions to help you regain your footing in this difficult situation. You may want to gradually implement some of them in order to move closer toward the light at the end of the tunnel.
1. Support 🤝
Right now, it would be beneficial to have some emotional support. Having someone you can trust and lean on, pointing you toward the light, even when you can’t see it, is priceless. Think about whom you would like to confide in!
You don't have to do this alone!
2. Wait On Making Decisions Until Your Depression Subsides
Most medical practitioners and counselors agree that no major decisions should be made while in a deep, dark hole. If you are currently wondering whether to keep the baby or abort it, give yourself more time!
During depression, reality is often distorted, seeming much darker than it actually is. Wait on making a decision until the dark veil has begun to lift and you feel your strength returning.
3. Relief through Medical Help 👨⚕️
Prenatal depression is highly treatable. Within two weeks, you should already start feeling the medication kick in.
Seek out medical advice as soon as possible in order to experience relief as soon as possible!
4. Spend Time Outdoors 🌳☀️
Just the thought of going outside may exhaust you. Try to do it anyway! Getting your muscles going in the great outdoors can do you a world of good.
Sunlight can brighten your mood - light therapy is even used for treating depression.
5. Proper Nutrition 🌮
You may not feel like eating right now and can't imagine ever enjoying food again. Nonetheless, choose to eat well!
Is there anyone who would be willing to cook for you? If you are having cravings, despite depression, go for it! Be it pizza or fried chicken, feel free to eat your soul food, even if it is not the healthiest choice.
6. Don’t Give up, Persevere! 🌥
This is probably the most important piece of advice: Hang in there and don't give up!
Dark clouds may hide the sun for a few more days or weeks. While you are waiting to see the light, remember that the sun is always shining above the clouds, even if you can't see it. You will get to enjoy the sunshine again soon.
In the meantime (and it may very well feel like “mean time”), feel free to make use of our resources:
- ⚖️ Abortion: Yes or No? - Take the Abortion Test
- 👤 Wondering how your personality type affects your pregnancy? Take the Personality Test
- 💡 Trying to think through a big issue? Take the Solutions Finder Test
- americanpregnancy.org (as of September 2021)