Monday, 9 January 2012

Turn that frown upside down!


That's the first name you get called the moment you mention feeling depressed.  I'm guilty of picking on people in that way myself! Having said that, I pick on everyone.  If I don't pick on you, it must mean I don't remotely like you.

When it comes to Pregnancy, a well-known factor is that it brings on a hormonal tempest which can very easily screw with your head.  You'll be laughing one minute, crying the next.

It really isn't as bad as people make it out to be though.  Maybe it is because I'm the kind of person to avoid drama, but whenever I cried throughout the Pregnancy, it was justified - I'd have cried anyway, pregnant or not.

Most of you can probably see where I'm going with this.  You're partially right. I will be looking at Post-Natal Depression - but that won't be all.

First things first.

It does not matter what relationship you have with the Pregnant Woman - don't take anything she says/does personal.  Please remember that besides from physically feeling like crap all the time, we've got a lot of thoughts rushing through our heads that we have to try and rationalise, as well as crazy hormones all over the place.  Imagine your teenage years - and the first signs of puberty.... without the luxury of taking things so lightly.  Now combine that to a generic icky feeling, and an extremely amplified version of PMS. That pretty much sums it up.

Second of all, it is not just Post-Natal Depression we risk facing - it is Prenatal Depression too.

Prenatal Depression
Prenatal depression is usually caused by raging hormones, stress and emotions that a pregnant woman feels. This type of depression usually goes away after several weeks or months during pregnancy but in some cases, medical intervention might be required.  Severe cases may cause pregnancy complications like pre-term labour.

Why does Prenatal Depression occur?

  • Pregnant women can feel depressed due to excessive financial concerns, their child's future and their parenting skills. 
  • A difficult pregnancy can also lead to Prenatal Depression.  By difficulties, I'm referring to anything like really bad morning sickness to news about a possible problem with the baby. These can trigger the feeling of fear, unhappiness and not feeling well.  
  • Stress is also a contributing factor.  Your working environment,for example, can be one of the triggers as can your relationship with other family members.
  • Relationship issues with your partner can also help contribute to the depression or start the depression. 
  •  A woman who has a family history of depression can/may experience Prenatal depression.
  • If you had trouble getting pregnant, chances are you've been under a lot of stress. And if you've gone through multiple fertility procedures, you may still be dealing with the emotional side effects of months or even years of treatments and anxiety-laden waiting. On top of that, now that you're pregnant, it's not uncommon to be terrified of losing the baby you worked so hard to conceive. All of these make you more prone to depression.
  • If you've miscarried or lost a baby in the past, it's no wonder you're worrying about the safety of this pregnancy. And if the loss was recent or if you've miscarried several times in the last year, you may not have had time to fully recover emotionally or physically. And as with fertility treatments, if you're dealing with health restrictions you're more vulnerable to depression and anxiety.
  • Women who've survived emotional, sexual, physical, or verbal abuse may have low self-esteem, a sense of helplessness, or feelings of isolation — all of which contribute to a higher risk for depression. Pregnancy can trigger painful memories of your past abuse as you prepare for parenthood, and the loss of control over your changing body may mirror the helplessness you experienced when you were abused.
  • Unexpected pregnancies, the prospects of Single Parenthood, being too young or too old-these can also be contributing factors.
Although prenatal depression is not life threatening, it is best to know how to recognise it, just in case it rears its ugly head.experiencing it. This will allow you the opportunity to prevent any complications to the unborn baby that can be caused by the depression. Here are some symptoms to look out for:
  •  Unjustifiable anxiety 
  • Excessive crying 
  • Sleep problems 
  • Unending fatigue 
  • Appetite change 
  • Loss of interest in normal activities 
  • Doesn’t seem to care for the unborn child  
Be supportive of anyone you might identify a potential case of Prenatal Depression in. Let them know, gently, that there may be something more to their moodiness just than hormonal changes and to speak to their doctor to be on the safe side.

Postnatal Depression
Women who suffered from Prenatal Depression face a higher probability of suffering from Postnatal Depression. In fact, it is thought to be a 50/50 chance of this development occurring.  By seeking help to treat Prenatal Depression, you can minimise the chances of developing the infamous Baby Blues.
There are a number of things you can do to help reduce the chances of Postnatal Depression.  In this previous blog, I've covered a list of such things in fact.  
Early identification and intervention improves long term prognoses for most women. Some success with preemptive treatment has been found as well. A major part of prevention is being informed about the risk factors, and the medical community can play a key role in identifying and treating postnatal depression. Women should be screened by their doctor to determine their risk for acquiring postnatal depression. Also, proper exercise and nutrition appears to play a role in preventing postnatal, and general, depression.

Postnatal depression may lead mothers to be inconsistent with childcare. Women diagnosed with postnatal depression often focus more on the negative events of childcare, resulting in poor coping strategies.  There are four groups of coping methods, each divided into a different style of coping subgroups.
Four coping strategies:
  • Avoidance coping is one of the most common strategies used. It consists of denial and behavioural disengagement subgroups (for example, an avoidant mother might not respond to her baby crying). This strategy however, does not resolve any problems and ends up negatively impacting the mother’s mood, similarly of the other coping strategies used.
  • Problem-focused coping consists of active coping, planning, and positive reframing. This blog is an example of Problem-focused coping in action! [clicky for more in-depth info!]
  • Support seeking coping involves seeking emotional support and instrumental support.
  • Venting coping as the name implies,tends to involve venting and even a certain degree of self-blame.

Basically, the whole point of me writing all the above, is to help you realise that sometimes, putting off your emotional maelstrom down to "being hormonal" and doing nothing about it can cause more harm than anything else.  So, take care of yourself - otherwise you won't be able to take care of your child.

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