During an ordinary, healthy cycle of pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes countless changes and adjustments. These changes can be physical, in the shape of the body, weight and flexibility; however they also include changes to mental health, emotions and psychological well-being. There are a whole host of feelings and thoughts that will filter through the mind of a pregnant woman, some will be thoughts of excitement and anticipation, others of fatigue and frustration. Due to large changes in hormones and neurochemicals within the body during a period of pregnancy, depression occurs commonly. This short article will look at what depression during pregnancy is and why it occurs.
Depression & Pregnancy - What’s the link?
On average, 1 in 10 pregnant women suffers from depression during this period of their lives. Depression is a mood disorder that can be characterized in terms of severity and the length of low mood periods.
Depression that develops during pregnancy can be caused by numerous factors affecting the mother’s mood, health and situation. Imbalances in hormones or rapid chemical changes in the body may leave the mother lacking in serotonin (a chemical responsible for feelings of happiness and reward), other changes may disrupt the balance of chemicals and hormones within the body and result in adverse states of mood and prolonged periods of feeling down and low.
Another factor that can contribute to depression during pregnancy can be linked to self-awareness, self-confidence and self-esteem. If the mother is pregnant for the first time, has family or social complications or has previously been unsuccessful in a pregnancy, this period can bring about many feelings of doubt, hesitation and a lack of motivation. Having a negative mindset towards yourself can result in the onset of depression and the mother may feel inadequate or ill prepared to take on the task ahead. Due to the physical and emotional strains of pregnancy, the mother may also be sleeping too little and therefore feel exhausted, this can result in low moods and a lack of happiness or motivation that could further develop into depression if the woman’s routine continues to be disrupted and fragmented.
What are the Signs of Depression during Pregnancy?
The signs and symptoms of depression will vary significantly from person to person and will depend on the situation and factors that are causing the feelings of low mood. Here are a number of common signs that the majority of people suffering from depression display:
- Increased levels of stress, anger or frustration
- A lack of positivity when thinking about future prospects and possibilities
- A lack of motivation towards tasks that would usually be easy and enjoyable
- Prolonged feelings of sadness that don’t seem to have an easily identifiable source or reason behind them. This may include excessive crying.
- Increased social isolation and feelings of wanting to be alone
- Lack of energy, enthusiasm and a feeling of being constantly drained