Depression and anxiety can occur at any stage throughout pregnancy and postnatally. Having a baby can be a rollercoaster of a ride in terms of emotions but depression and anxiety can cause a change in mood that is persistent and more severe than the average tearfulness that a woman may experience on the odd occasion. If you’re not sure if you’re suffering with depression and anxiety, or if it’s your pregnancy and postnatal hormones that are making you feel down, then here are some of signs of depression and anxiety to look out for:
- A persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
- Loss of interest in the world around you and no longer enjoying things that used to give you pleasure
- Lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
- Trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
- Feeling that you’re unable to look after your baby
- Problems concentrating and making decisions
- Loss of appetite or an increased appetite (comfort eating)
- Feeling agitated, irritable or very apathetic (you “can’t be bothered”)
- Feelings of guilt, hopelessness and self-blame
- Difficulty bonding with your baby with a feeling of indifference and no sense of enjoyment in their company
- Frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby, suicide or self harm
You may not have all of these symptoms but if any of these become concerning, speak with your doctor or midwife.
During pregnancy, you may be feeling a little more sensitive than normal. You may find that things that never usually bother you, really start to affect you. Hormones, tiredness, nausea and your changing body can have an impact on this.
After you have your baby, again you may have the odd period where things become overwhelming, particularly if you’re not getting much sleep with your new baby. The key is to look out for anything that doesn’t feel normal, is persistent, is affecting you negatively and/or affecting your day to day activities.
Look after your mental health
To prevent yourself feeling totally overwhelmed, or to manage things if they become too much, think about:
- Not putting too much pressure on yourself. Remember you are on a unique journey to parenthood.
- Avoiding comparing yourself or your baby with others
- Enlisting as much support as possible via friends, family, support groups and professionals
- Eating well and keeping hydrated
- Taking some ‘me time’ where possible
- Laughing (watching comedies on Netflix works for me)
- Preparing postpartum meals in pregnancy so you don’t have to worry about cooking in the early days after birth
- Speaking with your friend/sister/ midwife/ health visitor/ doctor if you ever feel you’re not coping or if you are feeling down
If you’re a parent and you’re concerned about your partner’s mental wellbeing, there are lots of organisations you can contact who can offer advice and sign post you in the right direction. These include MIND, Pandas and The Maternal Mental Health Alliance.
For further information, be sure to check out our other features in our wellbeing section.