Sadness During Pregnancy Is Normal – Here’s How to Mitigate its Effects

Sadness During Pregnancy

Postpartum depression is a fairly well-known condition, but what many don’t know is that it is also normal and common to experience depression during pregnancy as well. 

Yes, pregnancy is often talked about as this wonderful miracle. And it is. Having a child can bring on plenty of feelings of joy and excitement. But that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you if you are feeling more down than up during your pregnancy. 

The concern with perinatal depression is less about having it and more about how you deal with it. 

Understanding Depression During Pregnancy

Perinatal depression is a disorder that can affect individuals who are pregnant. While postpartum depression specifically refers to depression that occurs after giving birth, perinatal depression refers to both the time during pregnancy and after. 

It’s important to understand that perinatal depression is a real medical condition and is in no way an indicator that there is something wrong with the person who is pregnant, such as them not being fit to be a parent. You are not a bad person or a bad parent if you battle with depression during pregnancy. 

Perinatal depression is also incredibly common. Research suggests that around 7% of pregnant individuals experience perinatal depression, and rates are predicted to be even higher for those who live in primarily lower and middle-income areas. Perinatal depression can also affect anyone, regardless of age, race, culture, education, or income. 

The changes in hormones alone experienced during pregnancy is enough to cause a person to experience depression. But other factors can contribute to depression during pregnancy, such as genetics, increased life stress, a lack of support, increased physical and emotional demands, anxiety, or a history of depression or bipolar disorder

Because those who are pregnant are at a higher risk of developing depression, you need to learn how to recognize the signs of depression so you can take the steps you need to take care of your mental health

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of perinatal depression include:

  • Increased anxiety, especially concerning the baby;
  • Persistent sad mood;
  • Low self-esteem;
  • Feelings of guilt, inadequacy, worthlessness, or hopelessness;
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed;
  • An abnormal decrease in energy;
  • Irritability;
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things;
  • Oversleeping or difficulty sleeping;
  • Eating poorly; 
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs;
  • Lack of emotional attachment to the baby;
  • Persistent doubts;
  • Thoughts of self-harm, death, or suicide.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, it could be a sign that you are struggling with your mental health and depression during your pregnancy.

Tips for Taking Care of Your Mental Health During Pregnancy

Just because perinatal depression is normal does not mean you need to simply put up with it. There are things you can do to take better care of your mental health and mitigate the chances of your depression progressing during pregnancy. 

Create a Routine

Many people talk about having a routine for your post-pregnancy plan. But having a routine during your pregnancy can also help you take better care of yourself before the baby comes to reduce your chances of struggling with depression. 

Having a routine helps you stay on top of healthy habits and avoid slipping into bad ones. For example, making it a point to do yoga in the morning can not only help you start the day with a positive attitude, but it can also help treat certain physical symptoms associated with pregnancy like varicose veins. If you create a habitual routine during pregnancy, you’ll also be more likely to keep it up after giving birth. 

Your routine can also incorporate your support system. You can go on daily walks with friends and loved ones — all of which can lend a shoulder for you to lean on if you need it during difficult times.

Practice ALL the Self-Care

Self-care is something everyone should partake in, no matter who they are or whether or not they are pregnant. But self-care during pregnancy is especially important. If you are prioritizing your well-being, you are less likely to struggle with your mental health or depression as a result. Studies actually show that self-care behaviors during pregnancy have more positive effects on overall psychological well-being. 

There are many ways to practice self-care while pregnant. It can be scheduling more time for rest and relaxation, making healthier food choices, doing some yoga and meditation, going for a walk to get some exercise and clear your head, or creating a comforting and relaxing bedtime routine to get better sleep. 

Get Professional Help if You Need It

Finally, the most important thing you can do to take care of yourself during your pregnancy is to talk openly about your mental health. Struggling with mental health or depression does not mean you are broken, and it is not something to hide. 

When you are more open about your mental health struggles, it can help you let go of the things that are burdening you. So don’t be afraid to reach out to a medical professional for help, such as a therapist who specializes in helping those battling depression during pregnancy. They can offer you the help, support, and resources you need to take better care of yourself. 

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Article Author Details

Charlie Fletcher

Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer living in the pacific northwest who has a variety of interests including sociology, politics, business, education, health, and more.