Antenatal Depression – How To Prevent, Recognize and Treat Prenatal Depression

It is well-known that during pregnancy, the body of a woman passes through a lot of changes. The fact that future mothers are moody or experience changes in their feelings during pregnancy is not uncommon.

However, when the feelings induce tiredness, tears, loss of interests for your person or the pregnancy, sleeping disorders, anxiety, or constantly feeling down, you may be experiencing antenatal depression.

Also known as prenatal depression, this is a condition that affected between 7 to 20% of the pregnant women [1]. If it is not addressed correctly, this antenatal depression can turn into postnatal depression, which occurs after the delivery of the baby.

What are the signs that may indicate an antenatal depression?

prenatal depression

As mentioned before, if you feel moody, sad, angry, or are in a bad condition for one day, then you are not suffering from antenatal depression. It is normal to have mood swings during pregnancy, due to the hormonal changes that occur in your body.

Still, if the negative feelings intensify and don’t seem to go away, it is possible for you to have to face this problem.

What are the signs of prenatal depression? The future mother is constantly feeling sad, regardless of what is happening around her. There are also difficulties in concentrating, as the mind appears to be wandering away.

Sleep disorders are also common, with the pregnant woman sleeping too little or more than normal. There is also a loss in interest in the activities that normally made the pregnant woman happy.

Feeling worthless, guilty, or changes in eating habits are also some of the signs. In the worst cases, a pregnant woman can have thoughts about suicide and death.

What triggers this type of depression in pregnant women?

Just like in the case of mood swings, the hormones are mainly to blame for this form of depression. However, constant sickness and always feeling tired can lead to severe degradation of the woman’s mood [2].

Building anxiety about the major event a mother will have to go through and worries about whether she will cope or not can also become triggers. Some women start feeling bad because they have an altered perception of themselves.

They feel unattractive and undesirable due to weight gain, changes in the forms of the body, breasts that are swollen and other discomforts. The fact that motherhood is starting to place some restrictions on the life of a woman can also lead to discontentment and depression.

In the case of some women, the feeling that the family or partner has about the baby can be of great influence on the state of the pregnant woman as well.

If the mother had hardships connected to previous pregnancies or even lost a pregnancy, she can be more prone to suffering from depression. Other types of hardships, like financial or relationship hardships, are factors as well.

How can it be prevented?

First of all, it is important that partners maintain a healthy relationship between them. Even though the pregnancy is all in the hands of the woman, it doesn’t mean the man cannot be of help. A healthy relationship means support, understanding, and great communication.

If the pregnant woman, who is already subjected to all sorts of mood swings due to hormone changes, feels supported and enjoys a great relationship with her partner, it will be easier for her to cope with the situation.

The pregnant woman should also enjoy regular exercises because they increase the level of serotonin in the body, which is the happiness hormone.

As much as possible, get sufficient rest when pregnant and be careful about nutrition. It is known that some foods, like the ones that contain sugar, caffeine, artificial additives, and processed carbohydrates, can be held responsible for a bad mood [3]. Be careful about what you eat, enjoying the foods making you feel great.

Enjoying massages and acupuncture is also a great way to relax, soothe the body, and help you better cope with the challenges of being a mother. When you are pregnant, it doesn’t mean you can’t still do things that are enjoyable, but do your best to take good care of you at the same time.

What is the treatment for antenatal depression?

If you have a midwife, consider talking to her because she can help you in case you think you may be suffering from prenatal depression. Also, counseling and therapy are extremely helpful as well.

With the help of counseling, you will be able to see the causes that got you into this state and allow you to do something to change it.

If talking to a friend or family member is not helping you feel more at ease, perhaps a therapist will be able to help you in this situation.

If you find it hard to cope with the depression, the doctor you’re seeing may prescribe some medication, such as certain antidepressants.

From a medical point of view, it is considered safe to take antidepressants while being pregnant or breastfeeding.

But, never self-medicate in such a situation and always talk with your doctor or therapist about medications. Not all medicines are safe for your baby. If you want to make sure what you are taking is safe, try herbal remedies.

Together with vitamin complexes, these will stimulate the production of serotonin and adjust your mood. But, again, don’t take these herbal remedies by yourself or together with antidepressants.

Even if they are natural treatments, these remedies should have an adequately adjusted dose in the case of pregnant women.

So, antenatal depression can be controlled and treated. If you feel in a bad mood for several days in a row, not being able to get rid of it, regardless of what you do, do seek help.

The sooner you address prenatal depression, the better it will be for you and your baby. Do not attempt to manage this on your own, because it may be difficult and it can create further complications.


  1. Perinatal depression: prevalence, risks, and the nutrition link–a review of the literature. -ncbi [Link]
  2. Depression in pregnancy [Link]
  3. Junk food diet raises depression risk, researchers find -medicalxpress [Link]
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