January is Mental Wellness Month. Mental health concerns plague many Americans, and women in their child-bearing years can be especially prone to experiencing mental distress. Before, during, and after pregnancy, managing symptoms like anxiety, depression, OCD, and others is of utmost importance. The hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can exacerbate symptoms as well. It’s one of the reasons why doctors screen pregnant patients regularly for potential warning signs in their mental health. Read on to learn more about pregnancy-related mental health issues to watch out for and the impact they can have on your life.
Pre and Postnatal Anxiety
Anxiety is a condition usually marked by worried and intrusive thoughts and concerns over specific situations or the future. It is considered to be the brain’s response to perceived dangers and threats in the surrounding environment. During pregnancy, this can happen due to hormonal and circumstantial factors. If you face an unplanned pregnancy, the stresses can enhance anxiety before and after the baby is born. Sometimes, this anxiety can be debilitating. Healthy concern motivates you to address the problem, but anxiety doesn’t help you. If left untreated, a problem with anxiety can be dangerous for both mom and baby. Therefore, it’s essential to tell your medical provider about any lingering anxiety, especially during and after pregnancy.
Until recently, postpartum depression remained fairly taboo. However, efforts to increase awareness about the effects of postpartum depression have helped in this regard. Postpartum depression affects between 1 in 7 to 1 in 10 women after their child is born. The actual number of cases is likely much higher because some women do not report their symptoms, or it goes otherwise undiagnosed. Common symptoms of postpartum depression include:
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
- Excessive worrying
- Change or loss of appetite
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Excessive or frequent crying
- Feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, and sadness
- Sleep changes (too much and too little)
Many women experience the “baby blues” after the birth of their baby due to falling pregnancy hormone levels. Postpartum Depression is different than other forms of depression and requires unique and effective treatment to keep you and your baby safe. There is another postpartum mental health condition called postpartum psychosis (PPP), which is much rarer – affecting 1 out of 1000 women after giving birth. This condition affects a person’s sense of reality and can cause hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, or other behavior changes. In severe cases, people with PPP may attempt to harm themselves or their newborn. This condition is treatable, and early treatment increases the odds of a good outcome. If you or someone you love has any of these symptoms, report them to a doctor immediately. The sooner you get treated the sooner you will start to feel like yourself again.
If you or someone you know has had an abortion and is struggling with emotional distress, it may indicate post-abortion stress or PAS. PAS is a form of PTSD following an abortion and can include symptoms like:
- Mood changes like anger and extreme sadness
- Substance abuse
- Guilt and regret
- Trouble sleeping
Emotional recovery after an abortion is a journey; you don’t have to go through it alone. Clearway Clinic offers post-abortion healing programs with one-on-one meetings, group studies or weekend retreats to help you heal. If you need further mental wellness resources during or after pregnancy, we can point you in the right direction. Schedule a free, confidential visit today.