Prenatal Depression. Stay Strong, You Got This!

stay strong against depression
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Do you feel overwhelmed with simple tasks? Or with the number of tasks you need to complete even though it’s the same as usual?

Do you regularly wake up feeling like to need to drag yourself up without any happiness about the day ahead? Wondering how you will get through the day ahead?

These are all signs of depression as just because you are pregnant does not make you exempt from experiencing this.

Prenatal Depression is not as widely recognized as its powerful sister Postnatal Depression although it’s just as fierce and should be discussed just as much so that ladies/ girls can recognize the symptoms in themselves or their partners or in friends and family members.

But because we don’t talk about it, so many ladies suffer without realizing they are ill or they suffer in silence – fear of being judged.

When my friend was pregnant I slowly noticed a decline in her mental health (being an experienced mental health nurse gave me the knowledge to notice these subtle changes). I tried to help wherever possible but she was not aware that what she was experiencing was, in fact, prenatal Depression and she refused to acknowledge it. This made her fall deeper into her depression and carried on after pregnancy where it was finally picked up by professionals and she then took it seriously.

I noticed that she had stopped making an effort with her personal care, just little things at first like not putting on her makeup and blow drying her hair (she was previously very well presented every day). I also noticed that she wasn’t doing as many activities as usual and she had stopped going to the gym. When I challenged her about this she told me that she was pregnant and didn’t want to overexert herself and that she felt tired a lot. This is where the difficulty lies in prenatal Depression, as your body will naturally feel more tired as your baby grows and feeds from you. But if the tiredness becomes too much and it starts to become an effort to do everyday activities then this is a sign that something more is going on and you should see your GP.

So then my friend stopped making plans to meet up with the children and started to isolate herself. I tried to meet up several times for coffee or just pop by to say hello but each time she made excuses not to participate.

amazing mom fighting prenatal depression
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If this scenario seems somewhat familiar don’t worry! You're going to be absolutely fine! You got this! You're going to be an amazing mummy! Make sure you tell yourself this every morning when you're struggling to get out of bed and every time you feel you can’t push yourself to do something. It’s ok that you can’t do things and rest assured that you are feeling a little ill and you will soon be feeling well again.

You can also try these things to help in the meantime:
Try to totally relax in a warm bubble bath with some and have some gentle classical music playing in the background. Light some scented candles around the bath and as you soak, close your eyes and let all your worries leave your body. Focus on your muscles relaxing in the water starting from your toes and working your way up to your head. This will help you to feel relaxed.

After a few times of practicing this, you can add some small scenarios (called visualization) in your head after completing relaxation technique above. Just imagine somewhere you have felt happy before and remember every little detail about that place- the smell, the colors, the background, the people if any etc.

You can also try to push yourself to do one small thing each day that you have been putting off. If you can complete one task and focus on that achievement, it will help the chemical levels in your brain alter slightly and over time they will balance out to relieve you of your depression.

Another thing to do is try to have a positive mental attitude. Now, this is very difficult to do initially as my friend told me it was totally impossible and I should not speak to her about this nonsense. Although she did listen and when she was better she told me it helped her greatly. Start off by reading positive quotes each day online- not too many just short snippets so that you can concentrate enough to read them. Print some out that you feel particularly drawn to and stick them around your home in places that you naturally look at without thinking. As you progress, you can start to think of one thing each day that you are grateful for and write it down. Then you can think of something negative that day and turn it into a positive.

Don’t forget – you got this! You're going to be an amazing mum!

Have a look at the second article, Here’s What to Expect, and the third article, Make Some ME Time! in the Prenatal Depression series.

stay strong against depression
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Written by Joanne Etchells

Mummy to three gorgeous children, Joanne is a Writer and Registered Mental Health Nurse with nine years experience. She works with a variety of complex mental health conditions and has developed a vast knowledge along the way. Writing allows her to connect with and help other mums, sharing precious experiences and advice.