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How to diagnose depression in pregnancy early

How to diagnose depression in pregnancy early



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The image of fulfillment and happiness generally associated with pregnancy sometimes has a hidden side where anguish, fears and worries occupy a prominent place. Depression is, in fact, a common problem for a considerable percentage of women in the perinatal stage (10% -15%) who unfortunately it is not always possible to diagnose early.

Some of your symptoms may be masked or mistaken for normal pregnancy changes. It is true that occasionally experiencing mood swings and feeling sad, overwhelmed or excessively tired is very common during pregnancy (or the first days after delivery). However, in depression, feelings of sadness and emptiness are more pronounced, do not disappear, and interfere with daily life.

In the presence of several of the following symptoms persistently:

1. Feeling irritable or moody for no apparent reason.

2. Feel sad, helpless or overwhelmed.

3. Feelings of emptiness or 'meaningless'. Demotivation, lack of energy.

4. Sleep disturbances (excessive or insomnia) and in the intake of food (excess or loss of appetite).

5. Memory problems, concentration or difficulty making decisions.

6. Feeling guilty and doubtful of one's own worth.

7. Lose interest or the pleasure of activities that you used to enjoy.

8. Isolating yourself from family and friends.

9. Physical discomfort (headaches or stomach aches, low back pain, etc.) that do not go away ...

If we take into account that many women may have difficulty expressing their feelings because they consider them 'inappropriate' (I should be happy), we will see that the work of the health professionals involved in the monitoring of pregnant mothers is essential. This care should include not only checking the physiological aspects of pregnancy but also providing a space of trust where the different emotions of women (fears, illusions ...) have a place.

In this way, some depressive states would be detected much earlier, facilitating their treatment and preventing the discomfort from continuing or worsening during the postpartum period. Something fundamental since depression in parents is a key factor in the quality of care that babies receive.

As a complex state, there is no single cause of 'entry' into depression. Rather, we could speak of multiple factors that, if present, may increase the chances of suffering from it when combined with other conditions typical of the perinatal stage (overload and exhaustion, personal, work and relationship changes, etc ... which will imply the arrival of the baby.)

Some of these factors would be: the absence of support (family, friends), relationship problems, having a high-risk pregnancy or having previously lost a baby, stress and complications in the assisted reproduction processes, suffering significant losses, having personal or family history of depression, conflicts with femininity and motherhood ...

- Create a support network: It is important not to feel alone, to be able to talk about your own feelings and to anticipate a division of housework and baby care with your partner, family or friends that allow you to have some time for yourself.

- Go to childbirth preparation sessions: Having information can help to create more realistic expectations about the postpartum period and reduce the possible demands that may have been generated around being a 'perfect mother'.

- Join a support group for new mothers, And sharing your own experiences and emotions with other women in the same situation can be of great help.

If the symptoms do not subside or if they intensify, it is best to contact healthcare professionals and start the indicated treatment, which will generally consist of a combination of psychotherapy and medication.

Rocío Alloza Quintero

Psychologist at MaterNatal

You can read more articles similar to How to diagnose depression in pregnancy early, in the Depression category on site.


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