Advertising
Advertising

The Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression and How to Manage it Best

The Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression and How to Manage it Best

Prenatal depression is defined as a form of clinical depression affecting women during pregnancy. It can also be a pre-cursor to post natal depression. It is estimated to affect 10% of women worldwide; with higher instances within third world countries.[1]

Evidence indicates that treating the depression of mothers leads to improved growth and development of the newborn and reduces the likelihood of diarrhea and malnutrition among them.

Awareness of prenatal mental health is important in order to be your best as a parent and improving the health of your child. Have you ever contemplated what the impact could be of potentially unrecognised prenatal depression?

Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression

Although antenatal depression is more likely to occur among women who have a history of depression, it is by no means inevitable. It is important, however, that women with a history of mental health issues tell their midwife and/or GP, so they can discuss how this might affect their pregnancy and birth, and plan the right care and support.

Other factors causing prenatal depression are previous difficulty conceiving, unplanned pregnancy, emotional and physical abuse as well as relationship and financial concerns.

In a recent article posted by The BabyCenter, the authors stated that:[2]

“For years, experts mistakenly believed that pregnancy hormones protected against depression, leaving women more vulnerable to the illness only after the baby was born and their hormone levels plunged.”

It is now understood that a potential contributing factor towards prenatal depression is actually an imbalance in hormones. More and more information is coming out as this myth has been debunked and more research is being funded. This also shows in the lack of information for parents to turn to in such cases.

Common concerns can include:

Advertising

  • How mum feels about going through such a major life-changing event.
  • How mum views herself including negative perceptions about physical changes, such as weight gain, swollen breasts, and other discomfort.
  • The restrictions to mum’s lifestyle that motherhood might incur.
  • How mum’s partner or family feel about the baby.
  • How depression during pregnancy could impact relationships.
  • Difficulties with previous pregnancies.

Whilst these concerns are common for all expecting parents, and have been understood to be expected concerns in the past. Since the change in understanding about the prevalence of prenatal depression, it is clear that obsessive and chronic focus on the above points is linked and a sign of prenatal depression.

Signs of Prenatal Depression

Antenatal depression can begin at any point during pregnancy and is characterized as having a higher than normal level of worry about the impending birth and parenthood.

Whilst the majority of the following symptoms are common ‘side effects’ of pregnancy. The important factor to highlight here is if they become extreme, without break and/or multiple.

There are many signs that can show prenatal depression; from the following list, if seeing or experiencing more than one symptom, I suggest you seek advice from a qualified medical professional.

  • Lack of energy and extreme fatigue
  • Feeling emotionally detached
  • Tearfulness
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Feeling isolated and guilty
  • Inability to concentrate and difficulty remembering
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Extreme irritability
  • Sleeping too much or not enough, or restless sleep
  • Desire to over eat, or not eat at all
  • Weight loss/gain unrelated to pregnancy
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • A sense of dread about everything, including the pregnancy
  • Persistent sadness
  • Inability to get excited about the impending birth
  • Inability to feel a bond with the growing baby
  • Thoughts of suicide, or death

As previously mentioned, some of these factors are more commonly understood as ‘symptoms’ of pregnancy. Others are obviously more concerning. It’s important to have an awareness, both by the mother to be and her partner, in order to halt any brewing depression in it’s track.

As with any mental illness, open communication about the matter is one of the most beneficial things that can be done to overcome it. That is a pre cursor to all of the following examples of how to manage prenatal depression to facilitate overcoming it.

How to Manage and Overcome Prenatal Depression

1. Speak out

Don’t try to be ‘superwoman’. Try to do less and make sure that you don’t get over-tired.

Find someone you can talk to. If you don’t have a close friend you can turn to, there are many online support groups and even networks through social media. Your local group can be very supportive both before and after childbirth.

Go to antenatal classes. If you have a partner, take them with you. If not, take a friend or relative.

Advertising

2. Ask for help from your peers

Peer support in the right environment can be of great benefit to mothers affected by antenatal depression and PND.

Speaking to someone who has been through what you’re going through, and who has recovered allows mums to see they can get better.

However, do check that these groups are properly safeguarded with well-trained staff and volunteers, who have access to clinical supervision and support for themselves.

3. Antidepressants

Your GP may prescribe antidepressants which can help to ease many of the symptoms of moderate or severe antenatal depression. It is generally considered safe to take certain types of antidepressants when pregnant or breastfeeding, though do discuss this with your doctor who will ensure the ones selected for you are compatible.

Don’t stop (or change) antidepressant medication during pregnancy without medical advice. Around seven in 10 women who stop antidepressants in pregnancy relapse if they stop their medication.

You need to discuss the risks and benefits of continuing treatment in pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

4. Counselling and therapy

Talking treatments, such as counselling and psychotherapy, offer you the opportunity to look at the underlying factors that have contributed to depression, as well as helping you to change the way you feel.

If a friend or someone you know recommends a therapist, this can be a great way to find someone. If you don’t feel that the method of therapy or the therapist isn’t working for you, you can always change and try someone else. Private practitioners will charge a fee for their services, so this will probably be another factor in your decision.

Whoever you choose, make sure your therapist is registered with an accredited body, such as the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). You could also contact your Community Mental Health Team.

Advertising

5. Spend time with your partner

Experiencing depression – particularly during pregnancy – can feel isolating and confusing, but you’re not alone.

Try to talk about how you’re feeling and be positive about seeking help. It’s the best thing you can do.

With the right help and support, particularly early on, things can get better.

6. Reduce inflammation

One traditional hypothesis of any type depression is that people who are depressed have a deficiency in monoamine neurotransmitters in the body, which leads to low levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norephinephrine in the brain.

But growing evidence supports that at least some forms of depression may also be linked to ongoing low-grade inflammation in the body. Pregnancy causes amounts of inflammation as the body changes.

Working to manage this inflammation can therefore be assumed to assist in reducing prenatal depression. Simple things such as spending time outside, meditation, hydration, eating plenty of green vegetables and regular gentle exercise have been shown to reduce inflammation.

7. Improve gut health

Continuing from the previous post, long term low level inflammation has a negative effect on gut health.

The intestinal wall is our border with the outside world. Because the gut is where things from the outside (like food) are absorbed inside our bodies, the intestinal wall is designed to handle a many types of interactions with foreign matter. Considering the functions of our gut, it makes sense that most of our immune cells are located in the gut.

Further, the gut is home to our microbiome, the trillions of beneficial microbes that live inside our gastrointestinal tract. When a potential threat is sensed in the gut, large, far-reaching inflammation occurs. This inflammation can travel directly from your gut to your brain, especially through the vagus nerve.

Advertising

One of the most direct and quick ways to calm the vagus nerve is through dietary change. Just as emotions send messages to your gut, food sends messages to your brain. Spend time focussing on nutrition containing plenty of fibre from vegetable sources as well as including fermented foods to replenish your gut bacteria.

Myths About Pre & Post Natal Depression

Pre and post natal depression is often misunderstood and there are many myths surrounding it. These include:

  • Postnatal depression is less severe than other types of depression?
    In fact, it’s as serious as other types of depression.
  • Prenatal depression is not possible due to hormonal changes?
    In fact, those hormonal changes can contribute.
  • Postnatal depression is entirely caused by hormonal changes?
    It’s actually caused by many different factors.
  • Postnatal depression will soon pass?
    Unlike the “baby blues”, postnatal depression can persist for months if left untreated. In a minority of cases, it can become a long-term problem.
  • Postnatal depression only affects women?
    Research has actually found that up to 1 in 10 new fathers become depressed after having a baby.

Conclusion

Virtually all women can develop mental disorders during pregnancy and in the first year after delivery. But poverty, migration, extreme stress, exposure to violence (domestic, sexual and gender-based), emergency and conflict situations, natural disasters, and low social support generally increase risks for specific disorders.

Prenatal depression can be extremely dangerous for the health of the mother, and the baby, if not properly treated. If you feel you might be suffering from antenatal depression, it is highly recommended to speak with your health care provider about it. Together you can discuss ways to help treat and cope with this mental illness.

It’s becoming more prevalent and more widely understood as more medical studies are being done. Antenatal depression was once thought to simply be the normal stress associated with any pregnancy, and was waved off as a common ailment.

It can be caused by many factors, usually though involving aspects of the mothers personal life such as, family, economic standing, relationship status, etc. It can also be caused by hormonal and physical changes that are associated with pregnancy.

Most important advice – if you believe you are at risk or may be developing symptoms, reach out for advice and speak to someone.

Featured photo credit: Suhyeon Choi via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] World Health Organization: Maternal Mental Health
[2] The Baby Center: Depression during pregnancy

More by this author

Camilla Dempster

A prenatal/postnatal and health expert who teaches women to ditch the binge/restrict/guilt cycle around their body, food and exercise.

The Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression and How to Manage it Best The Most Critical Do’s and Don’ts of Working Out While Pregnant Working in the Third Trimester (The Complete Survival Guide)

Trending in Mental Strength

1 7 Steps to Start Living Your Dream Life Right Now 2 The Lifehack Show Episode 11: Mindfulness and the Authentic Self 3 5 Ways to Make the Best Use of Extrinsic Motivation 4 How to Overcome Your Resistance to Change for a Better Self 5 How to Improve Self-Control and Be the Master of Your Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 18, 2019

30 Fun Things to Do at Home

30 Fun Things to Do at Home

I’m BORED! Have you ever heard someone in your family use those words?

Most of us have.

I barred that word from my house. Whenever someone said they were bored, I gave them two options:

First, there is always work that can be done. Secondly, find something to do.

There are always creative things that we can do at home. You just need to put some thought and imagination into your day.

The list of enjoyable things you can do is inexhaustible. I am going to share 30 fun things to do at home. Some of the events are best done at appropriate times of the year. Enjoy!

1. Have a Costume Night

    Generally, the only time we can get away with putting on costumes is on Halloween. It is so entertaining to put on a costume and play.

    Host an evening where everyone has to dress up in a costume. (Some costume ideas here!) Eat your dinner that evening all dressed up. Play games and just have a party. You can even make it a “themed” costume party by choosing a time era or movie characters. Shape it to meet your interests.

    2. Throw an Indoor Picnic

    2

      Set out a picnic blanket and basket of food and eat your dinner as though you were having a picnic. Just having variety in your family life brings you closer together as a family unit. Events like this are often the catalyst for a fun-filled evening.

      3. Have a Christmas Party (*In the Summer)

      Advertising

        Set up some Christmas decorations and have a Christmas celebration during the summer.

        Prior to this event, buy a few Christmas presents to give to an organization that accepts donations for families in need at Christmas time. Have wrapping paper on hand. Wrap up the gifts, while thinking of the joy they will bring to some little girl or boy at Christmas.

        This serves to make your family mindful of others. Everyone in the family will be excited when Christmas comes and they can donate the gifts that you wrapped in the summer. It’s unique to have a Christmas party during the summer.

        4. Host an International Dinner Night

        As a family, pick out a country you would like to learn more about and are interested in. Find cuisine that is unique to that country. Prepare a dinner that would be served in that country.

        The family can even find clothing that is worn in the country and wear it to dinner. Each family member would be responsible to bring one fact about the country to share at dinner time. For example, you could choose Mexico. You could serve tacos, enchiladas,and arroz con pollo.

        Everyone could wear sombreros to dinner. Plan for an evening of creative learning time!

        5. Film a “Newscast”

        The technology that exists today is awesome. Smartphones come equipped to make videos.

        Set up and make a newscast of events that are going on locally or events that are taking place in your family circle. This will also help everyone learn to speak in public. Doing this at home is an unusual way to interact as a family.

        6. Have an Indoor/Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

          Everyone loves hunting for hidden things. Type up a list of things that need to be found and give everyone a list. The things can be inside your home or even outdoors around the yard. Put a time limit on how long they have to locate the articles.

          Be creative. You can even put some things in the form of clues, so everyone has to figure out what the object is. Have a small prize for the winner.

          7. Learn to Do Nail Art

          Nail art is the “in” thing right now. You see people with their fancy nails everywhere. With some patience, you can learn to do this at home. Spend time practicing this. You can find kits and tools for this at department stores and drug stores. It is relaxing to sit around painting nails and compare the outcomes.

          Advertising

          8. Plant Seedlings

          Planting seedlings and watching their growth is rewarding, as well as educational. You would need to do a bit of research as to what would be the best time to plant. The time frame fluctuates between various types of plants. Most plants take 3-15 weeks to mature to a level to be transplanted into a garden. You would want to know what type of plants you are planting and the time needed. It brings great joy to watch them develop and bloom once they are transplanted into a garden.

          9. Host a Themed Movie Night

          76138c257a2b32e07145d6762edf1051

            There are many movies that have sequels. Pick a genre that your family would enjoy. Plan for a whole evening of back-to-back viewing of the movies. Make sure you have plenty of popcorn and snacks on hand! If you want to be really creative, find props that go with the movie and set them out. You can even make a dessert that matches the movie theme. May the force be with you!

            10. Play Games

            Board games are an excellent way to have fun at home. There are so many options to choose from. Some of our favorites include Ticket to Ride, Catan, Sequence, and Risk. These are just a few of the many varieties out there. Go to a local game store and see what appeals to the taste of your family.. The great thing about board games is that you are able to interact with everyone while playing. Let the games begin!

            11. Film a Cooking Show

            9aaf969c0483a05052d71790355bb6b3

              Have you ever watched the cooking shows on TV? Cooking is a hot topic. In fact, cooking shows are so popular these days that there are networks that only broadcast shows about cooking.  Pick out a recipe you would like to try. Pretend you are hosting your own cooking show and video it. Make sure the whole family participates, in one way or another. You are certain to have a lot of laughs while watching your family episode.

              12. Make Christmas Cards

              Homemade Christmas cards are unique and special. Craft stores and department stores sell supplies that you can purchase to make beautiful cards. Use your creative skills and have an evening where you all come together and make Christmas cards to send to your family and friends.

              13. Make a Scarecrow

                Autumn is never complete without the fun of making a scarecrow. Rustling in the fallen leaves and stuffing them into old clothing brings out the kid in everyone.

                One time while visiting my grandfather, I thought it would be fun to make him a scarecrow for his yard. I never imagined that he would come out and start making it with me. He was well into his 80s, and yet the joy in his eyes when we made that scarecrow together was a memory I will always cherish.

                For those who like to be different, you can always make an indoor scarecrow at any time of year, using newspaper or paper towels as stuffing.

                14. Have a Karaoke Night

                Plan an evening of karaoke. This is a great way to spend family time together. PlayStation and Wii have several options to pick from. From experience, this is an evening of lots of laughter and joy! Everyone loves to sing…even those who might not have a singing voice like to bust out at karaoke.

                Advertising

                15. Do a Puzzle

                Puzzle-making is a calming way to spend time together at home. Hours can be spent finding just the right pieces to add to the puzzle. The best part is when you see the finished product. This isn’t a one-night activity, so set aside a place that the puzzle can be undisturbed. You can find mats that roll your puzzle up when you aren’t working on it. If you have a spare table that isn’t used daily, you could have it there on display and readily available to continue on.

                16. Play with Lego

                I am sure you have seen some amazing pieces of art made with Lego. Of course, not everyone has talent enough to make huge projects with Lego. Fortunately, the pleasure isn’t limited to your ability to build great things. Regardless of what you build, simply be creative and let the kid in you come out.

                17. Make Jewelry

                Learning to make jewelry isn’t that difficult. You can find many links on the internet that will teach you how to make earrings and necklaces.

                Visit your local craft store or department store and purchase some tools and supplies. Take your time and visualize what you want the finished product to look like. The jewelry you make can also be presents to give away. That is, of course, if you can bear to part with what you made.

                18. Host an English Tea Party

                  Some of us can remember being a little girl and having tea parties, chatting with our imaginary friends and sipping tea. Now that you are older, why not have a real tea party? Have the family dress up in their best outfits and host an English Tea Party. There are guidelines, recipes, and even games to play on the internet. Do a bit of exploring and planning, then host the perfect tea party at home for your family.

                  19. Plant Bulbs

                  90d7d92b20b0b6eba2a098ccfda860f2

                    There are two times of year that bulbs can be planted. In the fall, you can plant spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils. Alliums, agapanthus, cannas and some other summer bulbs can be planted in early spring. Set aside an appropriate time and plant bulbs in your yard. You will reap rewards when you see the sprouts starting to come up. Your yard will look lovely with the flowers blooming.

                    20. Read a Book

                    The art of reading aloud has lost its popularity. Pick out a book that would interest your family and have an evening each week that you read the story aloud. Take turns reading out loud. Interact about what is going on in the story line. This can be your own family book club.

                    Looking for books to read next? Here’re some self-help books to read, and here’re some great books for fiction lovers.

                    21. Have a Water Balloon Fight

                    This activity is best done outdoors in warm weather. This is an “action” activity that brings out the youthfulness in all of us. Depending on the size of your family, you can have teams for this. Fill up as many balloons as you like with water. Go outside and aim for your target. Run, laugh and have fun!

                    22. Learn Yoga

                    Yoga is so beneficial for every age group. As a family unit, learn yoga. Once again, there are many learning tools for this. You can find videos at your local library. This is a refreshing way to enjoy healthy interaction as a family.

                    Advertising

                    23. Invent a Writing Code

                    Invent your own code and write messages to each other. Take the alphabet and transform it into symbols and signs to represent each letter. It’s exciting to come up with your code. Once it is created, give everyone a copy of the code, and begin writing messages to one another. It will be interesting to translate words into the special code you made.

                    24. Have a Photo Shoot

                    Gather together some props and outfits and take family pictures. Make sure each member has individual shots as well. Acting as a professional photographer, be creative in the photos you take. Take funny pictures. Take serious pictures. Take candid shots. The joy of digital photography is that you can take as many photos as you like and delete what doesn’t work. Make sure you add props to make it interesting!

                    25. Learn Calligraphy

                    84c008b834b445e51dac4e42c7a3d0cd

                      Learning a new technique is always interesting. Calligraphy is a well-known type of writing with special pens. Craft stores and department stores have kits designed to assist you in the learning process. Write out poetry or some of your favorite quotes. You never know, you might acquire a talent and be able to frame some of your work.

                      26. Have a BBQ

                      It’s always enjoyable to have a barbecue. You can cook up your food and eat outside. After you are finished, have a campfire and tell scary stories. Remember how fun it is to sit around a campfire telling stories. Make this happen in your yard. Enjoy the night sky. Most of all, enjoy each other!

                      27. Invent Your Own Board Game

                      Discuss what type of game you want to make. Design the board together. Make the rules that will need to be followed. Make the game pieces that you will need. Play the game that you invented. Coming up with the game and the rules you want to make is an awesome time of interaction with one another. The results of your collaboration will be so exciting to view and play.

                      28. Have a Spa Night

                      Plan an evening where you can do an at-home spa night. Light candles, put on relaxing music, and make your atmosphere resemble a spa. You can do facials, manicures, and pedicures. You also can have bubble baths. Schedule it so that each person is doing a different thing and rotate the process. Your family will enjoy this time of pampering and relaxing.

                      29. Play Charades

                      This game has existed for such a long time and yet it never grows old. You can buy charade games already packaged. However, feel free to make up your own.

                      Each family member can contribute by writing down charades on index cards. Watching your family members act out the charade while the others are guessing is guaranteed to be a night full of fun and laughter.

                      30. Make a Family Scrapbook

                      73308a021102c9062089c59c5fcb9bc3

                        Choose an assortment of family pictures taken during different events. Compile these photos into groups and begin to make a scrapbook. Perhaps you want to focus on a special trip your family took or another meaningful event you wish to document. The ideas for creating your family scrapbook are endless. Personalize this and make it your own; after all, this is your story!

                        I hope that out of this list you will find some new things that you want to try at home. We have already done most of the things on this list as a family, and we look forward to doing the few that are left. Have fun and make some unique family memories that will be remembered for years to come.

                        More Ideas of Fun Things to Do

                        Featured photo credit: Andreina Vincentelli via unsplash.com

                        Read Next