A Clinical psychiatrist explains what depression is and why as many as one in ten pregnant women get it in the months before baby is born. Feelings of anxiety, sleeplessness and fear for the health of the unborn child are common symptoms.
Dr. Jim Bolton: Antenatal depression is depression that's occurring after a mother has become pregnant or find out that she is pregnant. Depression occurring at any time involves feeling very low in mood. But as well, it can involve a number of other problems, such as feeling quite anxious. Mothers with antenatal depression well, often report that they really are very worried about the baby that they're carrying even though people try to reassure them, that things are okay. They might have lots of anxieties, that are really out of proportion, they might find it difficult to sleep, find that they loose appetite, their concentration is bad. They find at times that they're very tearful and it's very worst. Mothers can sometimes think that they feel so low in mood, so they just didn't wakeup the next morning to be free of the feeling. So it can be quite a severe illness. Pregnancy of course, for finding out that you're pregnant, finding out even for father that you are going to be a parent, is going to bring a lot of changes and a lot of adjustments in your life and moms are going to have a big responsibility, they have got to ensure that they carry the new baby all the way through to the time of delivery safely. They've got to look after themselves, they have a lot of hospital appointments. They have to explain to other people that they're new mom and for some people that could be a shock if they find out that they're pregnant. Out of the blue it might be unexpected and even for the people who're trying for a new baby suddenly, it becomes very real that they have a lot of changes to make in their lives. And so people go through a lot of ups and downs even though as I said, we might expect it to be a happy time. The parents of the baby sometimes have to renegotiate their relationship they go from being boyfriend-girlfriend, husband and wife to now to being parents and everything that entails. So there are lot of stresses and strains which probably give people, as they say there's good and bad days, but it's when people -- when women feel low and that low mood goes on day-after-day, that we call depression rather than mood sadness. It's thought to affect probably about one in ten women, which is the same proportion of women who would have depression even when they're not pregnant. Depression is surprisingly common. But of course, it's a big worry, because the mum is now carrying a new baby and of course if someone has antenatal depression and it's not treated then, it may will persist during delivery and it will course turn into post natal depression. Depression isn't automatically cured by having a baby. The important thing is to enable people to talk about, how they're feeling because on the part of the mother it's helping her to recognize that this mood, this low mood is out of proportion and that help is available. But if the doctor or a midwife or a health visitor meets someone with depression as I say, it's allowing them to talk and particularly in a non judgmental way. Women are often quite fearful about talking about how they're feeling. They worry that perhaps they are going mad as people sometimes say, to me or that people who judge them in some way although they are a bad mother. So it's important to allow people to talk and there is help available either through talking therapies such as counseling or sometimes for severe depression anti-depression medication.