Antenatal anxiety and depression appears differently for each expecting parent. Some of the common symptoms can be:
Panic attacks (a racing heart, palpitations, shortness of breath, shaking or feeling physically ‘detached’ from your surroundings)
Persistent, generalised worry, often focused on fears for the health or wellbeing of the baby
The development of obsessive or compulsive behaviours
Abrupt mood swings
Feeling constantly sad, low, or crying for no obvious reason
Being nervous, ‘on edge’, or panicky
Feeling constantly tired and lacking energy
Having little or no interest in all the normal things that bring joy (like time with friends, exercise, eating, or sharing partner time)
Sleeping too much or not sleeping very well at all
Losing interest in intimacy
Withdrawing from friends and family
Being easily annoyed or irritated
Finding it difficult to focus, concentrate or remember (people with depression often describe this as a ‘brain fog’)
Engaging in risk-taking behaviour (for example, alcohol or drug use)
Having thoughts of death or suicide, or self-harm.
'I put any negative feelings down to hormones, I realise now that it went beyond the normal worry and stress of pregnancy. I found myself quickly all consumed by doubt and fear all the time.'
It can be particularly difficult to share these thoughts and feelings. But it is more important for those around you to be aware of the difficulties you are experiencing so they can support you through your recovery. And if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or others that are affecting your emotional or mental health to the point of not being able to function day to day, then it’s time to seek support.
How are you going?
To see if what you’re experiencing or observing in a loved one could be a reason to seek help, fill out a short mental health checklist.