A new poll conducted by the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom (UK) found that almost one third of pregnant women are depressed and anxious. Findings showed that nearly 15 percent of expecting mothers are suffering from antenatal depression, also known as prenatal depression that occurs during pregnancy.
For many women, getting pregnant is one of the most amazing journeys one can take. It is easy to paint a colorful picture of expecting mothers gingerly carrying their growing wombs. However, the NHS poll pushed the spotlight into the other side of what goes on during the nine-month journey. This type of clinical depression could be an indication of a possible postpartum depression if left untreated.
Findings from the NHS poll revealed that many pregnant women who feel anxious or depressed within the nine-month journey are afraid to tell their midwife or doctors about it. Moreover, the NHS poll showed nearly 30 percent of the soon-to-be-moms are experiencing key indicators of prenatal depression as well.
The similar topic has been addressed in poll conducted by BabyCentre, one of UK's online sources for expecting mothers. A survey of 1,000 pregnant women and mothers revealed that 42 percent of the participants have never shared their symptoms of depression to their midwife and doctors. These women shared top three reasons for not sharing the ordeal: guilt, embarrassment and fear of being judged.
The BabyCentre poll exposed that nearly half didn't want to be given the mentally ill label. Lastly, 26 percent had never discussed their symptoms with their spouse, relative and even close friends. One in five (21 percent) participants has yet to do something about their symptoms.
"There is still a stigma attached to depression and our research shows that admitting to suffering from symptoms whilst pregnant is something many expectant mums feel unable to do. As a result they aren't seeking the help and support they need from health professionals. This needs to change." said BabyCentre's international managing editor Sasha Miller.
The poll results showed the 'alternative face' of pregnancy. Pregnancy is both a physical and emotional journey for expecting moms. Miller added that women feel the pressure of having to paint the picture of a perfect pregnancy; however, this is not often the case for most mothers-to-be. Depressed pregnant women were asked about their biggest fear when it comes to having a newborn, postnatal depression, also called postpartum depression, was stated by most of women surveyed. This fear came first than the baby's health and monetary issues.
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) spokesman Dr. Patrick O'Brien expressed that pregnant women must receive the right kind of support they need at the time they need it most. O'Brien added that obstetric units must be able to refer their patients who suffer from depression to mental health services specialized for pregnant women and new mothers and in order to do so, a defined care pathway must be set.
Here are some causes of prenatal depression:
- Time of pregnancy. Younger women have higher risks compared to elder women.
- History of depression
- Little support from family
- Living alone
- Domestic violence
- Occurrence of conflict within the marriage
- Uncertainty and unacceptance of the pregnancy
- History of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a severe type of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
How Depression Affects Pregnancy
Depression affects a woman's ability to take care of herself during the nine-month journey. Depression can make them forget to take medications on time, eat healthy and get enough sleep.
Depression also increases the risk of drinking alcohol, using illegal drugs and smoking that can affect the development of the child. Depression puts up a wall between the mother and the growing baby, which then affects a mother's ability to bond.
How Pregnancy Affects Depression
Pregnancy can be a stressful time in a woman's life especially since it is no longer just about herself. The thought of growing a person inside her own womb can be enough to stress a woman out.
These prenatal anxieties can worsen clinical depression and lead to postpartum depression if not treated.