Pregnancy is one of the most thrilling moments in the life of every woman in the journey of motherhood. However, in many women, this is a time of confusion, fear, stress, and even depression. Depression in a broad sense is the feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in life.
Depression is now an emerging contributing factor to maternal mortality in Nigeria that affects 8 to 10 percent of women. Depression is the most common cause of complication in pregnancy that affects 1 in 4 women at some point during their life experience.
Depression during pregnancy negatively impacts mothers, children, and families. It can affect birth outcomes, the way moms’ bond with their baby and can affect children’s mental health later in life. These feelings often referred to as baby blues typically last a few days to two weeks.
Several factors result in the development of antepartum depression, which includes unplanned pregnancy, termination of education and parental distress. Lack of emotional support and medical complications are also among the factors that can cause depression. Research showed that women who experience depression during pregnancy tend to be at a higher risk of depression after giving birth.
Symptoms of depression vary with the severity of depression. Depression in pregnancy comes with glaring presenting signs and symptoms such as persistent sadness, difficulty concentrating, sleeping too little or too much, anxiety, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, changes in eating habits, loss of interest in activities that the woman usually enjoy. Other symptoms can include feeling overwhelmed taking care of the baby, difficulty bonding with the baby, diminished growth in the baby, or thoughts of harm coming to the baby. Depression in the long run if left untreated, can lead to tragic outcomes, such as suicide and feeling of worthlessness.
Depression in pregnancy can be easily managed if detected on time. Treatment of depression usually includes a form of psychological therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling and the use of antidepressant drugs in some cases.
By David Arome
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