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Prepartum Depression: What are the Signs New Mothers Should Know

Medically reviewed by Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Kirsten Rocamora · Updated Jan 11, 2022

Prepartum Depression: What are the Signs New Mothers Should Know

More and more people begin to talk about the existence of postpartum depression. Yet, it is still a very under-recognized phenomenon. Information and research are still scarce when it comes to prepartum depression.

Experiencing depression after giving birth might be something we’ve already heard about before, but did you know that an estimated 12% of women tend to experience prenatal depression – depression occurring during the pregnancy and not after.

It is not uncommon to hear mothers experiencing pregnancy to fear, have anxieties, or just be sad. Women experience plenty of hormonal changes amidst pregnancy, which can severely affect their mental well-being. It is crucial to let mothers and mothers-to-be know that they are not alone in this, and help will always be accessible. Explained in the following sections are what causes prepartum depression, how to deal with it, and how to prevent it.

Spot the Signs

The thing about prepartum depression is its close similarity to depression in general. Still, take a closer look at how the mother is acting. You might be able to spot clues that point towards the development of prepartum depression. These might be

  • Overload of anxieties when thinking about the baby
  • Very poor responses towards reassurance
  • Usage of alcohol and drugs
  • Suicidal tendencies or thoughts
  • Emotional numbness
  • Lack of self-care

Many studies show that bouts of depression may generally occur during the first trimester of pregnancy or the third. You might need to closely watch out for these symptoms because despite being more common in the first trimester, they can hit you at any point in the middle of your pregnancy.

What Can Cause Prepartum Depression?

The most common and usual cause of this type of depression is the hormonal imbalance from being pregnant itself. However, because every pregnant woman goes through imbalanced hormones, there has proven to be more than just one cause of prepartum depression. Some of these are:

  • A history of depression or mental illnesses
  • The pregnancy being unplanned
  • A traumatic or difficult childhood
  • Difficulty in birthing experience or miscarriages
  • Poor or lack of support
  • Stressful environment and living conditions

These are not the same for every pregnant woman. Some might really just be going through intense hormonal changes. But when you think things are going out of hand, it might be time to stand up and seek out help.

prepartum depression

How to Get Help

Remember that being confused is normal when it comes to situations like this. As soon as you feel any discomfort regarding or related to the pregnancy, make sure to come forward to your doctor as soon as you can.

Plenty of women are afraid to open up whenever experiencing things like prepartum depression because often, they worry too much about how people around will think. Getting help as early as possible can avoid developing it into something worse and prevent profound potential impacts on you and the developing baby.

Self-care is highly crucial when it comes to prepartum depression, and here are a few ways you can help yourself before things get worse:

  • Avoid being stressed
  • Meditate, relax, and do some pregnancy yoga if you have the time
  • Talk about it to friends and family you trust
  • Seek support in people who don’t know you – there are peer support groups that exist solely just for this situation

Treatment for prepartum depression usually comes in two methods, sometimes both of them for stronger impact. This can either be through counseling and talk therapy, where therapists will communicate with you and help you navigate what you feel. The second is medication. With this one, you have to make sure what you’re taking is safe for you and the baby.

You Are Not Alone in This

Experiencing prepartum depression isn’t a rare experience, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be treated. The moment you or someone you know feels or is experiencing the signs stated above, it might be time to seek help. No matter how embarrassing or worrying the situation might be, you will never be alone in it.

Plenty of women around the world are experiencing the same things. You do not have to be afraid. All you will need to do is avoid possible triggers, confide in people you trust, and ask for help as early as you feel it.

Learn more about Prenatal Care here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Kirsten Rocamora · Updated Jan 11, 2022

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