Susan struggled with her mood during pregnancy. When she first felt herself slipping during the fourth month, she reached for her ‘bag of feel good tricks’. She posted cheerful photos on Facebook, went for walks outside, cooked dinner, and drank kale smoothies. None of it helped. Although Susan’s husband adored her and was a terrific father, he had no idea what to do. He brought home flowers and took care of laundry and meals, waiting for these ‘mood swings’ to pass.
After the baby’s birth, her sadness, lack of energy, and feelings of hopelessness worsened. Every time she looked at her baby she felt overwhelmed by guilt and thoughts that she wasn’t the kind of mother her baby deserved. She decided it was time to get help and treatment, but wished she would have done this during her pregnancy.
Depression during pregnancy, also known as prenatal depression, is the strongest predictor of postpartum depression. Many women experience an episode of depression while pregnant, recover, and are well for a period of time, then experience a subsequent depression following the birth of their baby.
Symptoms of prenatal depression:
- difficulty concentrating
- very irritable
- extreme fatigue even when sleeping is okay
- overeating or not eating at all
- weight loss/gain unrelated to pregnancy
- a sense of dread about everything, including the pregnancy
- feelings of guilt
- sadness that won’t go away
- thoughts of self-harm.
If you feel any of the above symptoms for more than 2 weeks during your pregnancy, see your health care provider or call (416) 338-7600 to speak with a Public Health Nurse.
Remember to take care of yourself so you can better take care of your baby after birth. For more information about prenatal depression and anxiety visit Toronto Public Health.