What is Perinatal Depression?
Perinatal Depression is mostly used as a common term to refer antenatal and postnatal depression.
Both Antenatal and postnatal depression have similar symptoms and are treated in similar way. It’s just the period of occurrence different. Antenatal depression develops during pregnancy, and postnatal depression develops after delivery.
Emotional changes during and after pregnancy is common, don’t confuse it with Antenatal and postnatal depression.
That is, it’s common for expectant women to feel pretty emotional as they go through immense physical and realistic changes during the course of pregnancy.
It’s also normal for women to experience the ‘baby blues’ a couple of days after delivery. These include feelings like being moody, irritable, and overly sensitive, but the baby blues only last for few days.
However with antenatal and postnatal depression, these emotional disturbances or changes last more than two weeks and hinder you from doing things you need or want to do in your daily life.
Symptoms of Perinatal depression
The experience of perinatal depressions can vary from person to person.
If you have mood swings or have lost interest in things you’d normally enjoy, this is something to take seriously. You might also notice changes in your behavior, emotions, thinking, social life, and physical wellbeing
If you notice any of the below mentioned changes for more than two weeks, please seek a professional support. It’s important to let your health professional know if you’ve a history of depression. Past mental illness can pop up during pregnancy.
Changes in Emotional Perspective
- Be in a bad mood for long time
- Often feel sad or tends to cry
- Lack of confidence
- Gets angry or cranky
- Feel overwhelmed mostly
Changes in Thinking Perspective
- Self criticism ,that is if something bad happens, then you might consider it as your fault, or that you’re worthless or a failure
- Thinks you are a bad mother and your baby will have better life with someone else
- Have trouble concentrating and decision making
- Tries or thinks of hurting yourself or your baby
Changes in Behavior and social Perspective
- Lack of interest in activities you normally enjoy
- Find it hard to move on
- Fear of being alone or fear of going out
- Afraid of being alone with the baby
- Back outs from friends and family
- Self ignorance ,that is not looking after yourself properly
Changes in Physical Perspective
You might have:
- Sleep troubles – either you’re sleeping a lot more than usual or you can’t sleep
- Appetite changes –either you’re overeating or you’re not eating
- Low energy level
Very few women experience postnatal psychosis in the early weeks after delivery. If you’re concerned that you or your partner is behaving or thinking in an unusual way, talk to your GP as soon possible.
Practical strategies for perinatal depression
If you or someone close to you has perinatal depression, here are some practical strategies to help.
Psychological or Emotional Support
First and foremost thing you can try is Talk Talk Talk!
Yes talking to a person who can understand your feelings and emotions can help you to manage perinatal depression to an extent.
Let it be an emotional support from your partner, family and friends, whoever you feel like opening up.
A friends group, playgroup, co-parents or therapy group can be another source of emotional support, where you can meet other people with similar experience.
Assistance at home
Ask someone you trust to help you to take care of your baby, help with household chores.Your partner, family or close friends can help you with this at home
These assistance can provide you with rest and sleep, and it will surely make you feel less overwhelmed. Moreover it’s a good source of companionship, which is important for your speedy recovery.
Many people have a helpful nature and will be delighted if you ask for a support. There’s no need embarrassment or feel guilty for asking for this kind of help.
Your emotional well being and physical health are directly proportional. Managing a healthy lifestyle can make you stay away from perinatal depression. You can manage both mental and physical health by:
By term exercise, I didn’t mean heavy work outs. However you can get some time for a walk, slow dancing for your favorite music.(I used to dance for slow music holding my son 😉 )
Have some handy food, like fruit, yogurt, wholegrain bread and fresh vegetables cut up ready to eat with dips
3.Stress management – Think less , enjoy more
Over thinking will surely lead you to depression, so think less. Living in the present and enjoying your motherhood is what you can do. Enjoy every moments, the smiles, the giggles, even the poops..lol
4.Rest and relax
Sleep when your baby is sleeping, go to bed early, and nap whenever you can. Play a soothing music , which you and your baby can enjoy.
5.Me time – The most important one
Have a long shower while your partner, parents or friends are at home as they will look after the baby
Call your friends and have a positive conversation, watch a movie or your favorite series
6.Self Awareness – Scrutinize your mind
You can’t make any change to your life if you’re not aware of what is happening to you and what you really want?
Know yourself by answering these below mentioned questions every day:
- Which phase of life am I going through now?
- What makes me feel good today?
- What made me down or depressed today?
- What am I grateful for?
- What I really want to do or achieve?
- How can I overcome this?
If you are having a negative mental narrative comments such as ‘I am a bad mom’, I cant handle this’, ‘My life is terrible’ etc. just transform it to positive comments like ‘I am a great mom’, ‘There is no perfect parent’, ‘This too shall pass’, ‘My life is great and I am enjoying time with my baby’, ‘This is the most colorful phase of my life – The Parenthood’ etc.
You can meditate for a while to change your mind and fill it with these positive thoughts.
Keep in mind “You can navigate your illness instead of your illness navigating you’
Getting help for Perinatal depression
If you think you have a perinatal depression, it’s important to take professional support at the earliest
Professional supports that you can relay on are :
- Mental health services
- Your obstetrician
- Child and family health care centers
- Local community health center
If you’re not sure of whom to be consulted, your GP can guide you to the most appropriate person. Getting proper guidance and support will help you to manage the symptoms and feel better earlier.
Treatment for perinatal depression
Many treatment options are available if you’re experiencing symptoms of perinatal depression. Talk to your doctor, he will guide you with a customized treatment plan that suits your age, personal circumstance as well as the severity and type of the depression.
Below mentioned are some of the treatment options for perinatal depression.
Psychological treatments for perinatal depression comprise of interpersonal therapy (IPT) and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) .These therapies intend to help you deal with feelings of anxiety and depression.
A counselor can help you one on one, or in a group of members experiencing similar symptoms.
Doctors may recommend antidepressant medication for perinatal depression. There are different types of antidepressants; some can be safely used even during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
In most case, medication along with psychological therapy works better.
“Being a new mother is supposed to be the happiest time of your life, but postpartum depression and anxiety strip that away for a time, but trust that it will not last forever.”
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