Prenatal Depression:  What is it and Do I have it?

Prenatal Depression: What is it and Do I have it?

sad pregnant woman

Prenatal depression is a form of depression that occurs during pregnancy.  It is recognized as one of the most common medical complications mothers-to-be experience during their pregnancy and is every bit as real and difficult an experience as postpartum depression can be.  Often times mothers suffering with prenatal depression have a difficult time understanding their own feelings, thoughts and even their own actions that tend to interfere a good deal with their everyday life.

Facts About Prenatal Depression

Your pregnancy is certainly a time of overwhelming happiness for you, your spouse and your other family members, but it can also be a time of increased stress and emotions.  As a result of the increased emotions and stress, a number of mothers to be experience depression that presents with feelings of sadness and often times aloneness. Most women who suffer from prenatal depression choose not to talk about their feelings and their varied mood swings because they recognize it typically should be a time of joy not sadness.  However, giving focus to your mental health during pregnancy is every bit as important as focusing on your physical health.  

Risks of Prenatal Depression

There are a number of risk factors that come into play when mothers to be suffer with prenatal depression.  Some of the more common risk factors include, but are not limited to stress, anxiety, fear, a history of depression, an unplanned pregnancy, partner abuse, and minimal social support. 

Signs & Symptoms of Prenatal Depression

Though many of the symptoms mirror those of everyday depression, there are some specific indicators that the mother to be is experiencing prenatal depression.  Some of these specialized signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Fear of inadequacy about new parenthood
  • Severe anxiety about the birth of the baby
  • Lack of attention to prenatal care
  • Use of cigarettes, alcohol or drugs during pregnancy
  • Lack of attention to diet
  • Suicidal thoughts

Effects of Untreated Prenatal Depression

If you suffer with prenatal depression and fail to have it treated there is a good chance that you will not take proper care of yourself or even your unborn child during your pregnancy.  Those who do not give focus to their prenatal depression tend to experience postpartum depression as well and tend to find it challenging to bond with their newborn baby. There are a variety of treatment options available that are dependent upon the level of prenatal depression you suffer with.  From antidepressants to psychotherapy the treatment options are varied.

How Do I Know If I Am Suffering with Prenatal Depression?

If you are unsure whether or not you are experiencing prenatal depression, there is a specialized screening for depression, anxiety and mood swings that your doctor can perform.  The screening typically involves a series of questions that are focused on moods and anxiety.

The answers you provide will be scored by your physician and the total accumulated score is then utilized to determine whether or not you have prenatal depression.  The prime benefit of this specialized screening is the simple fact that it helps to provide mothers to be with self-awareness about their own risk of anxiety, depression and mood swings.  

Riverside Medical Group – The Team You Can Trust

Here at Riverside Medical Group we encourage patients who think they might be suffering with depression during their pregnancy to talk with our highly experienced staff and discuss your every thought and feeling.  Together we will determine appropriate next steps and what the ideal treatment option for your prenatal depression will be. Don’t delay. Reach out to our dedicated team at one of our New Jersey locations and schedule your prenatal visit and consultation today.