We’ve all heard of postpartum depression. A lot of us have known someone with postpartum depression. It’s those weeks, and sometimes months, after a woman has delivered her baby that trigger depression and anxiety. Little do people know, postpartum depression has a sister that is rarely talked about and sometimes, unknown. This is called antepartum depression.
Allow me to break this down just a bit. Ante is a latin term that means before. Partum refers to the delivery phase of the pregnancy. Depression has many definitions, so we will define it here as an overwhelming feelings of sadness. Therefore, antepartum depression means depression that happens before you deliver your baby. In other words, it is depression while you are pregnant.
I was first introduced to antepartum depression when I was pregnant with my third child. In my years of practice, I had worked with several pregnant mothers that described feeling down and blue. We worked through the depression, but I never named it or did a great deal of research on it. During my third pregnancy, I was very sick. Days of sickness turned into weeks. The weeks turned into months. It turned out that my entire pregnancy, I was extremely sick. After feeling sick for weeks on end, I started feeling depressed. My desire to do things that usually brought me happiness seemed unimportant. My energy was incredibly low. I had a hard time getting out with friends and family because I didn’t feel up to it. For weeks, I complained that I didn’t feel like my normal self.
After some time, I set out to find more information about antepartum depression. Realizing that it is a real problem that many women struggle with made me feel a lot better. I started naming it, talking to people about it, and taking steps to make myself feel better. This did not come easily and took me a long time to do. In fact, while I was diligent about doing all of those things, I still feel that my depression lasted until I delivered my daughter. However, talking about it and getting the help I needed really made all of the difference in the world.
What are the symptoms of Antepartum Depression?
The symptoms of antepartum depression are very similar to depression outside of pregnancy. This include but are not limited to:
-Feelings of worthlessness
-Feelings of guilt
-Change in sleep (sleeping more or less than usual)
-Change in eating habits
-Change in desire to do things that once brought happiness
-Thoughts of hurting yourself
-Thoughts of suicide
What can I do to treat my antepartum depression?
-Psychotherapy is one of the best tools to use when dealing with antepartum depression. A therapist can help guide you through your thoughts, feelings, and help give you solutions to work through them
-Medication is another route to take. This has implications on your baby and you will want to talk in depth with your medical provider. There are some medications that are safer to take while pregnant.
-Herbal supplements are another option. Again, talk to your doctor about what he/she feels is best for you and your pregnancy. There are several herbal treatments that can help.
-Foot zoning was a major help while I was dealing with antepartum depression. It eased my sickness and helped me feel more centered with my thoughts and feelings.
-Exercise is the last thing you want to to when pregnant (and depressed) but it is truly one of the best things you can do. Even walking around the block will release endorphins that will help your mood.
-Eating a balanced and healthy diet will be beneficial for you physically and mentally during your pregnancy.
-Sleeping and getting enough rest is essential during this time.
If you are suffering from Antepartum Depression, please know you are not alone! Thousands of women suffer from this on a daily basis. Share this blog post with someone you feel needs to hear about this. Antepartum depression is rarely talked about and needs to be an active conversation with women who are expecting babies. If you need further help, please call Wasatch Family Therapy. There are kind and professional therapists here to help you through this difficult time.
Q: I’m 26 and very lonely, a virgin and I have no close friends. I’m socially awkward and it has affected me all my life. I’m so alone that I made a time limit in my journal that if I don’t make friends or have sex when I reach 30, I’ll kill myself. Crazy right? I even know it’s crazy. I’m a really nice girl, but quiet. What is wrong with me? I have no help what-so-ever around me. I don’t even know what to do anymore. I’ve tried making friends, but it’s so hard. I’m getting desperate, I’m so alone.
A: Thanks for writing in about your desperate need to connect with others. I hear that your overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are so painful that you have considered putting a time limit on your life. Ironically, putting a time limit on getting close to others will likely increase your anxiety level and create situations that will make it less likely that you’ll create close and successful relationships. Instead of giving yourself an ultimatum (“You get close to someone or else I’ll end your life”), I suggest that you work on seeking sources of emotional and relational support, on self nurturing, and on actively seeking relationship skills.
I strongly recommend that you seek a psychotherapist as soon as possible to get someone on your “team,” someone you can explore your pain with, ease your loneliness, and help you find the tools to connect with others. Opening up to a therapist may feel very scary; however, therapy can be extremely helpful in resolving emotional blocks that are making it so difficult to get close to others, and help you develop emotional and relationship tools. Your therapist will also assess for a mental illness that is contributing to the feelings of loneliness or isolation. If you need help to find a qualified therapist please click here. Group therapy may also be a helpful treatment option for you at some point. Groups are a wonderful place to explore your relationship patterns and to practice relationship skills in real time with the support of a therapist. Thank you again for writing in.
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