Prenatal depression and anxiety; Ann felt like she was walking through fog when she was pregnant with her second child.
“Most [days] it was difficult to get out of bed… I would spend my mornings weeping on the sofa. “Everything appeared to be more difficult,” she remarked. “I struggled to do everyday duties, and the house became a shambles, making me feel like a failure.”
She has suffered from anxiety and depression since she was 20 years old, and she was informed she had an 80 to 90 percent probability of developing pre- or postnatal depression. She assumed, however, that it would most likely happen after she had given birth.
“I was fairly surprised that I felt tremendously unhappy and nervous during my pregnancy,” she explained, adding that the symptoms began soon after she realized she was pregnant. Struggling after my first appointment with the nurse,” I fell into tears and told her I was constantly worried and frightened.”
Ann was feeling a lot more than just worry and stress. It is prenatal depression and is afflicting a rapidly growing percentage of women worldwide.
Researchers say an increase in the prevalence of prenatal depression represents a significant public health concern with implications for both current and future generations.
“We know that depression during pregnancy is common. We know that it’s possibly one of the most important timings of depression because it not only impacts the mother, it impacts the developing fetus,” said Rebecca Pearson, PhD, a lecturer in psychiatric epidemiology at the University of Bristol and lead author of the research. “Depression for the individual is the leading cause of disability worldwide because it interferes with functioning, the ability to go to work.
She adds, “It’s obviously very unpleasant and it’s intergenerational, so it has an impact on the child.”
Why more women experiencing prenatal depression today?
According to Pearson, one of the causes for the present generation’s increase in prenatal depression may be the cost of living in comparison to prior generations.
“The financial strains are far higher. Our mother’s generation could afford a home… today property prices have skyrocketed. You just can barely exist without two sources of income. “They don’t have the choice of staying at home for an extended period of time.”
Dr. Leena Nathan, an associate clinical professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles, says that being a mother now is more difficult than it was in the past.
“Women are under more stress today than ever before.” More women are working and raising children. Modern life moves at a faster speed than in the past. We don’t have as much time to relax, calm down, and enjoy life as we used to. Social media and technology worsens your mood. “These concerns did not exist in the 90s,” Nathan explained.
She speculates that women of today can admit to experiencing depression, nonetheless, the risks of prenatal depression are high, and we should treat every case seriously.
The Trend of Perinatal(prenatal) Depression in women
“Depressed women can’t adequately care for themselves,” she explained. “Some women may injure themselves or their children.” We know that a fetus needs emotionally, socially, and physically fit mothers to develop and thrive. A mother’s happiness has a direct impact on her children’s well-being, and the effects of a sad mother can ripple into generations.”
Dr. Pearson believes that the present generation may be suffering increased levels of prenatal depression due to higher goals and expectations of achievement.
Kimberly Vandegeest-Wallace, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Kansas Health System, said women who are used to achieving anything they put their mind to may find parenting challenging.
“Highly educated women are accustomed to being able to create and achieve goals.” Being pregnant and parenting are all out-of-control components of a woman’s life, according to Vandegeest-Wallace. “Because this paradigm is so unlike to the rest of life, many women haven’t developed coping mechanisms for failing, being disappointed, needing to be patient, and relinquishing control.” All of these elements, however, are essential components of the parenting experience from the minute a woman decides to try to conceive.”
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Lack of support can exasperate symptoms
Ann says she felt a lot of guilt throughout her second pregnancy since she wasn’t able to enjoy herself. In Ann’s instance, she had a midwife who could assist her, but many women do not receive the same degree of care.
“We are nowhere near what we need to do to reach men, women, and families suffering from perinatal mood disorders,”
It is obvious that pressure and a lack of family support are contributing to high rates of depression among mothers, and she believes that altering views around maternity leave might help solve the problem.
Making it through the storm
Ann is now the delighted mother of a boy and a daughter. She writes about her mental health struggles on her blog to help other mothers “get through the storm.”
“Prenatal depression is a sickness, and it is not your fault,” she explained. “Just because you have prenatal depression does not make you a horrible person.” It just signifies that you require assistance and should speak with someone about how you are feeling.”
Experts say even if a woman is in doubt about whether or not she’s experiencing prenatal depression, she should seek help.
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Recognizing the Signs of Prenatal Depression and Anxiety
For many people, parenting may be an emotional rollercoaster. It’s very natural to have a couple more emotional outbursts. However, if a parent’s worry becomes so severe that it interferes with their everyday lives, it’s time to get treatment.
According to Ann Smith, a nurse, midwife and president of Postpartum Support International, warning signs include persistent melancholy, intrusive thoughts, excessive and unreasonable worry, excessive irritability or anger, drastic appetite changes, and sleeplessness.
Prenatal depression is not a sign of weakness, according to her, and there is support available.
“You are not alone. You are not at fault, and you’ll be OK with the right support.