Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.
-Shannon L. Alder
It takes strength and courage to address and face what’s truly showing up in your life, especially during pregnancy when society often tells us that we’re supposed to be “happy and glowing” the whole time. For most of us, this isn’t or wasn’t our experience of pregnancy at all. If you’re also struggling with a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMAD) such as depression, this can make you feel very isolated and alone from the pregnancy norm. However, you’re actually not alone, as according to Postpartum Support International (PSI), one in five woman experience a PMAD during pregnancy and/or postpartum.
Let’s start with the common symptoms of depression outside of the perinatal period (and then we’ll talk about how pregnancy depression symptoms tend to show up and often look very different). Common depression symptoms:
- Depressed mood
- Sleeping changes (sleeping more or less than usual)
- Loss of interest in things you usually enjoy
- Feelings of guilt
- Decreased energy
- Lowered concentration levels
- Increase/decrease of appetite
- Suicidal thoughts
Common symptoms of depression during pregnancy:
- Sadness and frequent crying spells
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Feeling disconnected from your pregnancy/unborn baby
- Frequent feelings of anger and frustration
- Trouble remembering things
- Not being hungry or eating more than usual
A lot of the typical screening symptoms for depression are not within your norm or at your typical baseline during pregnancy such as sleep, appetite, concentration, and energy levels. So, the symptoms that are often more important to depression during pregnancy include anger, agitation, frustration, irritability and restlessness. Often moms experiencing depression during pregnancy will state that they just don’t feel like themselves, and that they become very upset about things that wouldn’t normally bother them.
Also keep in mind that anxiety and depression symptoms may show up together for some pregnant women.
Perinatal Bipolar Mood Disorders
Many women are first diagnosed with bipolar mood disorders during pregnancy and postpartum, and symptoms include: depression and mania or hypomania, and fluctuating highs and lows. (PSI)
Did You Know…
About 10% of dads get depression and about 18% have an anxiety disorder during the perinatal period. (PSI) So, be on the lookout for mental health symptoms your partner may be experiencing during your pregnancy as well. And, maybe have him read this blog!
Think about what mental health symptoms are you currently experiencing in your pregnancy. Please reach out to your doctor or a perinatal mental health certified therapist (PMH-C) in your area to further discuss these symptoms with a professional.