Pre-natal depression

Pre or Ante-natal depression can begin at any point during pregnancy.
Approx 7- 15% of women experience pre-natal depression during their pregnancy.

Symptoms

Symptoms vary but you may experience some of the following:
– higher than normal levels of anxiety about having a baby / being a parent
– tired all the time, no energy
– feeling emotionally detached
– have lost interest in yourself or your pregnancy,
– chronic anxiety or other higher than normal levels of emotion e.g. anger
– feeling very tearful
– not being able to sleep
– fear of seeking help, becoming very isolated

Causes
There isn’t always any specific ‘cause’ of depression, sometimes it just happens.
But causes can also include:
– can be caused by a hormone imbalance during pregnancy.
– Is more likely to occur in women with a history of mental illness but is not inevitable

Other factors that can contribute to antenatal depression are
– pregnancy sickness and tiredness,
– having previously had difficulties in pregnancy or childbirth or experienced miscarriage
– anxieties over coping with motherhood
– relationship problems
– lack of family support
– economic worries

Antenatal depression is more likely to occur among women who have a history of depression, however it is by no means inevitable. It’s very important that women with a history of mental health issues tell their midwife and/or GP so they can discuss how this might affect their pregnancy and birth, and plan the right care and support. Similarly it is important for any women feeling any form of anxiety or the feelings described above to talk about it with their midwife & or GP.

Pre-natal depression can end when the baby is born, but a third of women with pre-natal depression go on to experience post-natal depression. This is why is it so important to treat it as it occurs, to get the support network in place for after the baby arrives.  There is also emerging evidence that depression during pregnancy can impact on the developing foetus – another reason why it’s vital to seek help.

Treatment
In Sheffield we have the Perinatal Mental Health Service for those with the most severe symptoms of pre and post-natal depression, and for women with mild to moderate symptoms Light is here to support.

Peer support
Peer Support is an evidence-based treatment for mild to moderate pre and post-natal depression. Light runs 4 pre and post-natal support groups across Sheffield every week, offering a friendly, safe and peer supported space for mums from different backgrounds, areas and cultures to come together and share their experiences. We have specially trained staff and volunteers that will help you. We listen to you, make you a cup of tea, entertain baby, and give you a chance to talk about what you’re going through and how you’re feeling. You will meet other mums feeling like you.

Counselling
Counselling and talking therapies can be a good form of treatment for pre and post-natal depression. They can look at any underlying issues that might be causing the depression and give you tip and techniques to help you feel better.

Medication
It is important that women already taking medication for depression seek the advice of their healthcare professional if they become pregnant, rather than just instantly stopping their medication. Your GP / Midwife will be able to advise on this.