Depression during and after pregnancy occur more often than most people realize. Depression during pregnancy is also called antepartum or prenatal depression, and depression after pregnancy is called postpartum depression.
Approximately 15% of women experience significant depression following childbirth. The percentages are even higher for women who are also dealing with poverty, and can be twice as high for teen parents. Ten percent of women experience depression in pregnancy. In fact, perinatal depression is the most common complication of childbearing.
Symptoms can start anytime during pregnancy or the first year postpartum. They differ for everyone, and might include the following:
- Feelings of anger or irritability
- Lack of interest in the baby
- Appetite and sleep disturbance
- Crying and sadness
- Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
- Loss of interest, joy or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
- Possible thoughts of harming the baby or yourself
It is important to know the risk factors for antepartum and postpartum depression. Research shows that all of the things listed below put you at a higher risk for developing these illnesses. If you have any of these factors, you should discuss them with your medical provider so that you can plan ahead for care should you need it.
- A personal or family history of depression, anxiety, or postpartum depression
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD or PMS)
- Inadequate support in caring for the baby
- Financial stress
- Marital stress
- Complications in pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
- A major recent life event: loss, house move, job loss
- Mothers of multiples
- Mothers whose infants are in Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)
- Mothers who’ve gone through infertility treatments
- Women with a thyroid imbalance
- Women with any form of diabetes (type 1, type 2 or gestational)
Postpartum and antepartum depression are temporary and treatable with professional help. If you feel you may be suffering from one of these illnesses, know that it is not your fault and you are not to blame. You can use our Get Help page to reach out now. We understand what you are going through and will connect you to people who can help.