Pregnancy, Prenatal, and Postpartum Depression
The time around pregnancy, birth, and right after birth is one filled with mixed emotions: joy, fear, excitement, dread. These are all normal responses to bringing a new life into the world, but sometimes they can grow out of control – and begin to do harm to your mental and physical health.
Postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety, as well as prenatal anxiety and depression, is a common ailment. It is estimated that 1 in 7 mothers experience postpartum depression, and 1 in 10 fathers do as well (partners can also suffer from postpartum and prenatal depression and anxiety).
Fortunately, prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety are highly treatable. You don’t have to wait for this pain to simply pass, act now to create a healthier mental space for yourself and your baby.
There is not just one trigger for postpartum depression or anxiety, and researchers are still figuring out what could be the root cause. One thing is for certain though: It is never caused by something the mother did or failed to do. Postpartum and prenatal depression is a result of environmental and physical triggers.
During pregnancy and after giving birth, your body is in a constant state of change to support the growing baby. Right after childbirth, a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels drop – and this is believed to be a trigger of postpartum depression.
Other risk factors for postpartum or prenatal depression and anxiety include:
- Sleep deprivation
- A history of postpartum depression in your family
- A stressful pregnancy (can include loss of a loved one, job loss, move, or personal sickness)
- Medical complications during birth
- A weak emotional support system surrounding the pregnancy
- Mixed feelings about the pregnancy
Pregnancy, birth, and life with a newborn baby is a chaotic, emotional time. But if you begin experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s a sign that postpartum or prenatal depression could be setting in:
- Mood swings
- Frequent crying
- Feeling exhausted even after resting
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Eating issues (lack of appetite, etc.)
- Feelings of shame, guilt, or inadequacy
- Not wanting to be alone
- Worst-case scenarios/scary thoughts surrounding yourself or the baby
While some mothers experience primarily postpartum depression, others experience depression and anxiety, or just anxiety. Signs of prenatal or postpartum anxiety include:
- Constant worry
- Panic attacks
- Wanting to keep your baby at home with yourself at all times
- Frightening, repetitive thoughts about harm coming to the baby or yourself
- Ruminating (repetitive, worrisome thoughts) about the birth or safety of your child
- Trouble sleeping
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Increased heart rate/palpitations
Approximately 50% of postpartum depression cases start in the prenatal phase, so getting help early on is vital. Even if you don’t recognize the above symptoms but you do have one or more of the risk factors, it is worth it to seek professional help in the interest of yourself and your baby.
Our postpartum and prenatal therapists can diagnose PPD and anxiety, as well as help you prepare for the birth and everything that comes after it.
There are two main treatment options for women who are going through postpartum depression or anxiety:
Medication – Antidepressants can help to reset your brain chemicals to a healthier, more balanced state. Pregnancy and childbirth release a lot of hormones into your body, so your brain may just need a little nudge in getting back to normal.
Talk Therapy – Whether it’s one-on-one with a licensed professional or through group therapy, talk therapy can give you the insight and coping mechanisms needed to manage your postpartum depression, anxiety, and even future bouts of depression and anxiety.
Most likely, a combination of the two will yield the best results. Talk with your psychiatrist about your options.
Pregnancy, Prenatal & Postpartum Therapists at RIVIA
If you are experiencing feelings of depression and anxiety before or after birth, don’t wait. Contact us now to schedule a free 15-minute consultation, or book directly with a provider of your choice.