Breaking the Taboo: Understanding Prenatal Depression
Prenatal depression is a medical condition where the expecting mother feels prolonged sadness, anxiety and loss of interest. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, prenatal depression affects around 14% to 23% of pregnant women.
Despite its prevalence, prenatal depression is often neglected and remains a taboo topic in society. Most people assume that pregnancy is a time of pure joy, and any negative emotions or feelings are often brushed aside as ‘pregnancy mood swings’.
This lack of awareness and understanding leads to struggling mothers receiving little to no support, which further impacts their mental health and the health of their unborn child.
To help break the taboo surrounding prenatal depression, it’s important to understand its causes, symptoms and how it can be treated.
Causes of Prenatal Depression
Prenatal depression is a combination of physical and emotional factors. The physical changes in the body, hormonal imbalances and sleep deprivation contribute significantly to the onset of prenatal depression. On the other hand, anxiety about childbirth, fear of parenting, financial stress and unexpected changes in responsibilities can also be factors that trigger prenatal depression.
Symptoms of Prenatal Depression
The symptoms of prenatal depression are very similar to that of major depression, including prolonged sadness, loss of interest, difficulty sleeping, feelings of guilt, hopelessness and irritability.
Women struggling with prenatal depression may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, lethargy, and changes in appetite. It’s common for pregnant women to experience mood swings, but if they last for two weeks or more, it’s best to seek the help of a medical professional.
Treating Prenatal Depression
The treatment of prenatal depression depends on the severity of the symptoms. In most cases, therapy and counseling are recommended to help expecting mothers understand the causes of their depression and provide practical solutions to cope with them. For more severe cases, medication under a physician’s supervision may be necessary.
It’s important to note that the expecting mother’s mental health is not just significant for her, but also for the health of the unborn child. If left untreated, prenatal depression can lead to premature birth, low birth weight, and other health complications for the newborn.
Breaking the Taboo
Breaking the taboo surrounding prenatal depression is crucial in ensuring expecting mothers receive the care and support they need. This can be done by increasing awareness and education around prenatal depression, encouraging expecting mothers to speak openly about their mental health, and offering support groups within healthcare facilities and communities.
Prenatal depression might be a taboo topic, but it is a mental health condition that many expecting mothers go through. By understanding it, we can offer better support, provide appropriate treatment and reduce the stigma associated with it. Let’s break the taboo and ensure that expecting mothers receive the care they need to safeguard both their mental health and their unborn child.