So often we hear of postpartum depression, but we rarely hear of another equally-severe diagnosis: antepartum depression.
Hey y’all, Tiffany here.
I’m about to start sharing something extremely personal with you. This was a difficult post to write, but I felt like it was important.
For most women, pregnancy is a wonderful, joyous time. They feel the wonder and awe of a new life growing inside of them.
For some women, pregnancy is great, but it is also full of morning sickness, fatigue, and kinship with an elephant (especially around the ankles!).
For 20% of women, however, pregnancy is a time of anxiety, fear, and depression that far outweighs what should be expected from these hormone changes.
When I became pregnant with my first child, I started feeling some anxiety. I would envision myself on a walk after she was born, and then someone would come steal the stroller from me. Or I would be driving down the road, and suddenly I could clearly “see” myself in a horrific car accident that would cause too much damage to my abdomen for the pregnancy to be saved.
It’s typical for first-time moms to be nervous about when the babe comes, so I thought I was just normal. I mentioned it once or twice to friends (and even my mom), and they all assured me that they had the same thing happen to them.
But then the nightmares began.
Living a Nightmare
When I was pregnant with my first child, I started having nightmares. These weren’t regular nightmares; these were real. Starting at about 5 months, I would have extremely realistic dreams that my husband was having an affair because I was getting too fat.
While I knew in my head this was ludicrous, I couldn’t shake the feeling.
I would wake up each morning, dreading when my husband would leave for the day because it meant I could no longer reassure myself that he wasn’t cheating since he wasn’t in my sight.
I had these nightmares every single night. For weeks. They got more and more real, and after a few months, I couldn’t really distinguish between my dreams and reality. I tripled my exercise and cut my calorie intake in half because I kept hearing my husband’s voice from my dreams mocking me for being fat, asking, “How could I ever still love you when you look like that?”
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Some of the symptoms of antepartum depression include (but are not limited to):
- Persistent sadness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Loss of interest in activities you typically enjoy
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Change in eating habits
- Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or hopelessness
As you go through your pregnancy, or as you watch the pregnancy of someone else, please keep an eye out for these symptoms! Sometimes, yes, you’ll encounter these while pregnant (especially sleeping too much or a change in eating!). However, they could be a sign of something more serious, like antepartum depression.
About the Author:
Tiffany Thomas is a chocoholic, former math teacher, and homeschooling mom with Crohn’s Disease. She and her husband Phillip (who is an engineer) work together on the blog Saving Talents. They enjoy spending time with their family, geeking out over sci-fi together, and saving money.
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