Understanding Antenatal Depression

Antenatal depression can be experienced at any stage during pregnancy. It usually encompasses worry that is higher than normal in regards to parenthood and impending birth. The symptoms of antenatal depression includes:

  •  Constant Tearfulness
  •  Being emotionally detached
  •  Chronic anxiety
  •  Lack of strength or energy
  •  Guilt
  •  Low self esteem
  •  Lack of interest in activities

Causes of antenatal depression

Antenatal depression affects pregnant women due to hormonal imbalance. Tiredness and severe morning sickness are other common factors that lead to depression. Anxiety that comes along with coping with motherhood is also another cause of depression.

Other causes are:

  •          Financial stress
  •          Stressful life events such as losing a loved one
  •          Lack of social support
  •          Relationship problems such as emotional or physical abuse
  •          A history of miscarriage
  •          Severe morning sickness
  •          Untimely pregnancy
  •          Difficult birth

How Depression Can Cause Harm to the Pregnancy

If not well treated, antenatal depression can cause potential risks to both the mother and the baby. It may lead to poor nutrition, suicidal behaviours and inappropriate use of alcohol. As a result, it causes development problems, low birth weight and premature birth. In addition, a depressed mother may lack the energy to take good care of herself and the baby.

Other possible problems contributed by antenatal depression are:

  •   Less activity by the baby
  •   The baby may be more agitated
  •   Baby may not pay much attention

Effects of Antenatal Depression in a Relationship

Depression during pregnancy contributes to various difficulties, thus making it hard for a relationship to thrive. The more depressed a person is, the more there will be marital dissatisfaction. If there is no proper diagnosis, a spouse may misinterpret their partner’s behaviour, for instance with the thought that the other is withdrawn and sometimes no longer in love. The affected expectant mum might also withdraw from social events.

What Can Be Done to Avoid Antenatal Depression

There are several ways that can be used to curb or prevent antenatal depression. These include:

  •  Exercises – naturally, exercises boosts levels of serotonin and decreases cortisol levels.
  • Adequate rest – the body can be affected by lack of enough sleep and so, establishing a sleep schedule will help to prevent depression
  • Diet- ensure that you eat foods that will make you feel better and have the ability to handle mood changes.
  • Talk – Find someone that you can talk to about how you feel or what you think as this will make you feel relieved. Talking will also enable another person to know what you are going through.
  • Less work – try to work less and ensure that you are not overly tired.
  • Support – accept all the help that is offered by friends and family.


Where to get help

Talk to your doctor as they understand the implications of antenatal depression. They will be in a position to guide and direct you to your recovery.


#Please note that development differs from one child to another

# Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: theconversation, americanpregnancy, hopetocope

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