An estimated 6 to 12 percent of women struggle with depression during pregnancy.
In the first and last third of pregnancy expectant mothers are considered to be particularly vulnerable to mood swings.
First full of euphoria and then suddenly the eyes fill with tears and you start crying: Does this sound familiar to you? Mood swings often occur right at the beginning of pregnancy.
They are one of the signs of an existing pregnancy and often persist in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. In this time, pregnant women react irritated and are in dispute situations much more sensitive than usual.
Also, criticism or stress, women now often take lightly, but react depressed. For outsiders – such as the expectant father – the reactions or tears usually have no reason. Nevertheless, mood swings in pregnancy are normal and harmless and therefore differ from depression during pregnancy.
Dealing with Mood Swings
You suffer from mood swings during pregnancy and a gestational depression is excluded, but you and your partner make the changing moods very difficult? Here we tell you what you can do:
- Involve your partner. Talk to him about what’s going on in you so he can understand you better.
- Treat yourself to something. When the mood is cloudy again, take a break from everyday life. Whether it’s a cinema, a restaurant or a short break – treat yourself to something that is fun for you.
- Off to tea time. Meet with your best friend and let the frustration out. She sure likes to listen to you and after that you will feel much better.
- Visit your gynecologist. The birth is imminent, and you panic? Talk to your gynecologist about your concerns. Your midwife is also good support.
Causes of Mood Swings in Pregnancy
Different causes are responsible for the mood swings during pregnancy:
- Changing circumstances: Suddenly everything is different. You become aware that you are expecting a baby and that your life will soon change. Even though women have planned the pregnancy, it scares them. Perhaps you are wondering if you are really up to the challenge and you doubt whether you will be a good mother. And then all of a sudden, you are overjoyed by the fact that you are carrying a baby. With all these changes in your life, it’s normal for you to experience highs and lows now.
- Hormonal change: The main cause of your mood swings are the hormones. During pregnancy there are pronounced hormonal changes. The high production of estrogen and progesterone causes you to experience variable emotions. In the second trimester of pregnancy this has settled again and you are calmer and more relaxed.
- Interaction with other ailments: you suffer from fatigue and heartburn? Then of course it’s no wonder your mood is in the basement. If you have multiple pregnancy problems at the same time, it can be quite annoying. Relax. Soon your body will regain control of the chaos and you’ll feel better.
Pre-Birth Mood Swings
Not only in the first weeks of pregnancy, mood swings can be noticeable.
Many women also struggle with fluctuating feelings shortly before birth.
When the birth is approaching, it is normal for fears to occur: will everything go well? Will my baby stay healthy?
All these questions go through the head of expectant mothers before delivery. Talk to your doctor or midwife about it and let it calm you down.
Mood swings are quite normal in pregnancy. But if the emotional low points still prevail, look up your gynecologist. There is a possibility that you are suffering from pregnancy depression.
How Is Depression Diagnosed During Pregnancy?
The diagnosis of depression during pregnancy does not differ in principle from the diagnosis of depression in general.
However, there is a specialized questionnaire for postpartum/postnatal depression, which is also used in depression during pregnancy.
The Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale helps assess the presence of depression. The questionnaire contains ten questions on personal emotional well-being.
Symptoms of Peripartum Depression
Depression in pregnancy, in addition to general signs of depression, can be expressed by neglecting prenatal care.
The peculiarity of depression during pregnancy is that the symptoms are not only noticeable in the mother, but can also be seen in the unborn child.
Thus, a delayed growth of the child or premature birth can be due to depression.
Treating Peripartum Depression
For mild depressive moods during pregnancy psychiatric or psychotherapeutic treatment is largely unnecessary.
A supportive consultation of obstetricians or gynecologists is sufficient in most cases. In severe cases, as with pregnancy-independent depression, psychotherapeutic measures are necessary.
It should be noted, however, that some medicines can harm the unborn child, which must be taken into account in the treatment.
Depression in pregnancy is often difficult to detect, as it can sometimes be very difficult to differentiate the signs of depression from normal pregnancy-related mood swings.
Thus, only about 18 percent of women who actually suffer from depression can be treated.
Later episodes of depression during pregnancy may be postpartum depression and an impaired mother-child relationship.
Is It Possible to Prevent Peripartum Depression?
There are no universal ways to prevent depression during pregnancy.
However, if depressive moods last longer and there is a suspicion of depression, it is advisable to seek professional advice as early as possible, especially in pregnancy, in order to avert possible consequences.