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Depression during Pregnancy: How to NOT Feel Like Your Life Is Over

You’ve heard about postpartum depression, but what about depression during pregnancy? Here are some strategies to help new moms feel better.

I wanted a baby, didn’t I? But why do I feel like this? Now I’m pregnant, and I feel like my life is over.

Feeling like your life is over during pregnancy can be a sign of prenatal depression, and it’s more common than you think. Nearly 7% of pregnant women experience depression during pregnancy, but it often goes unrecognized because the symptoms are similar to those of pregnancy, like changes in sleep, energy levels, appetite, and libido.

While many moms experience prenatal depression, they still go on to be amazing moms. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t—and shouldn’t—feel better. Here are some key points and strategies that can help:

Understanding Prenatal Depression

The hormonal changes, stress, and the significant life changes associated with pregnancy can contribute to depressive feelings. And the risk of prenatal depression increases if you have a history of depression or anxiety, are experiencing stressful life events, lack support, or have complications in pregnancy.

Prenatal depression can affect you any time during pregnancy, and may develop into postpartum depression after birth.

Symptoms include…

  • persistent sadness,
  • anxiety,
  • irritability,
  • trouble sleeping,
  • loss of interest in activities,
  • feelings of hopelessness, and
  • changes in appetite.

Importance of Addressing Depression during Pregnancy

If left untreated, prenatal depression can affect your physical health, making pregnancy more difficult. It can also impact fetal development and lead to complications during pregnancy and later down the line. But more than that, prenatal depression can increase the risk of postpartum depression, making early intervention crucial.

Strategies to Feel Better

As scary as all of this sounds, you are not alone. Many moms have experienced this, and there are ways to feel better.

Build a Support System

Whether you’re experiencing depression during pregnancy or not, a support system is so important for new moms. And when you are feeling like you can’t take care of yourself, having a circle of family and friends that you can share your feelings with is a great tool. You can even take it a step further and join support groups. Joining a prenatal support group can connect you with others who understand what you’re going through.

Practice Self-Care

You probably hear this one all the time, but that’s because self-care goes a long way toward making new moms experiencing prenatal depression feel better. As your life is changing with pregnancy in ways you never expected, it’s important to keep doing the things you like. The things that are familiar. This helps you keep one foot on the ground even as everything else is spinning.

Whether your thing be regular, moderate exercise like walking or prenatal yoga, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, painting, knitting, or whatever else, these activities can boost mood and help maintain energy levels and overall well-being.

Monitor Stress Levels

With prenatal depression, stress is your worst enemy. And sometimes that stress comes from within, a product of your mind’s making. Keep a finger on your stress, always monitor your levels, and try different mindfulness exercises—meditation, deep breathing, prenatal massage—to see what reduces stress.

One of the best ways to manage your prenatal stress is journaling. Writing about your feelings can be a therapeutic outlet, especially if you focus on your pregnancy journey and how it’s affecting you. This holds space for your feelings and helps put the journey into perspective.

Our favorite guided journal for pregnancy is 9 Months of Wonder.

Educate and Prepare

One of the scariest things about being pregnant is the unknown. How is my life going to change? What if I’m a bad mom? Learning about childbirth and parenting can reduce anxiety about the unknown, making it easier to deal with prenatal intrusive thoughts. And setting realistic expectations will make it clear that it’s okay to not have everything perfect. This will help you focus on what is truly important.

Communicate with Your Doctor, Midwife, and Partner

It’s difficult to address mental health if you don’t hand your feelings over to someone you trust, like your doctor, midwife, or partner. Regular appointments with your OB/GYN or midwife should include discussions about your mental health. And if you’re not scheduling regular check-ins with your partner or someone from your support network, it might be time to start. Being honest about your feelings and symptoms helps those around you offer the best support and treatment, which helps you feel better in return.

Seek Professional Help

There’s absolutely no shame in realizing that you can’t go the pregnancy journey alone. Whether you’re just feeling the first tickle of depression or are having trouble getting out of bed (and not because of your belly), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other forms of counseling can be very effective. In some cases, as prescribed by your healthcare provider, antidepressants may be necessary and can be safe during pregnancy.

Remember, You Are Not Alone

Many women experience prenatal depression, and it does not mean you are a bad mother or that you will not bond with your baby. With the right support and treatment, you can manage these feelings and have a healthy pregnancy and postpartum experience. If you ever feel overwhelmed or in crisis, reach out to a mental health professional or a crisis hotline immediately.

Discover More Ways to Feel Better with Depression during Pregnancy

The cover of the book Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts.

Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts

The cover of the book You Got This, Mama!

You Got This, Mama!

The cover of the guided journal 9 Months of Wonder.

9 Months of Wonder

Shaelyn Topolovec earned a BA in editing and publishing from BYU, worked on several online publications, and joined the Familius family. Shae is currently an editor and copywriter who lives in California’s Central Valley.

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