You Are Not Alone: Pregnancy-related Depression and Anxiety
posted by: Amber Johnson
If there is one article that has resonated very deeply with our audience, it was Casey’s confession of when she intentionally overdosed on prescription medication when she was seven months pregnant.
Pregnancy is supposed to be a wonderful time in a woman’s life as she prepares for the joys of motherhood. However, pregnancy-related depression and anxiety are the most common complications of pregnancy, affecting about one in 10 Colorado women. At Mile High Mamas, we are proud to partner with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) on their new awareness campaign to help women recognize the symptoms and get help with the important message:
You are not alone.
Pregnancy-related depression (PRD) and anxiety can occur any time during pregnancy through the baby’s first birthday. It may also happen after a miscarriage, pregnancy loss or after adopting a baby. Many women feel uncomfortable talking about their symptoms with family, friends or health care providers and we want to help break down those barriers.
Symptoms of PRD
Pregnancy-related depression and anxiety are serious conditions that affect a woman’s physical and mental health. Pregnancy-related mood disorders include anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and psychosis. Symptoms differ for everyone and might include the following:
- Feelings of anger or irritability.
- Lack of interest in the baby.
- Loss of appetite and trouble sleeping.
- Crying and sadness.
- Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness.
Why is this happening?
Just remember: you are not at fault and you are not to blame! There is no one cause for pregnancy-related depression and anxiety. Women who develop depression or anxiety around childbearing have symptoms that are caused by a combination of psychological, social and biological factors that can include a personal or family history of mood or anxiety disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive) and sensitivity to hormonal changes.
How is PRD different from the “baby blues”?
Pregnancy-related depression and anxiety can look like the “baby blues” because they share similar symptoms such as worry, crying and fatigue.
The difference is that with the “baby blues,” the feelings are somewhat mild, last a week or two and go away on their own.
How do I get help?
Here’s the good news: With support and resources, pregnancy-related depression and anxiety is highly treatable. Treatment plans are different for each woman but might include increased self-care, social support, therapy or counseling, and treatment of symptoms with medication when necessary. Here are some suggestions for mothers:
○ Get support from family and friends so you can keep active, eat healthy and get enough rest and time for yourself.
○ Talk to a professional.
○ Learn as much as you can about pregnancy-related depression and anxiety.
○ Ask for help when you need it.
○ Join a support group in your area or online.
○ Don’t give up! It may take more than one try to get the right help you need.
Where do I get help?
Feelings of guilt, frustration and withdrawal are common among new moms but you don’t have to feel this way. Having a baby is hard but help is available.
Go to www.postpartum.net to get information about pregnancy-related depression and anxiety and find Colorado coordinators who can give you support and resources in your area. You may also call 1.800.944.4773 (English and Spanish) to get confidential, free and immediate support. They also offer free, live phone chats with experts every week including chats and resources for dads.
And always remember: You are not alone. You are not to blame. It’s okay to ask for help.
In partnership with Mile High Mamas.