Anxiety and Depression: A diagnosis that some people believe in and some people don’t.
It really doesn’t come to mind as being a “thing” during pregnancy; a time that is full of happiness and joy. I mean, you’re growing a human inside of you which is amazing and exciting. How is it possible, then, to be overcome with sadness, guilt, and even dismal thoughts that overtake every second of your day?
I think this is because post-partum depression gets all of the glory. Moms-to-be aren’t warned as much about a potential occurrence during the pregnancy. You are informed of what to look for after baby is born and when to see a doctor, but no one tells you what to look for during pregnancy.
You don’t really know that it is a “thing” until you’re told you have it.
And I do.
Yes, I have dealt with anxiety issues my entire adult life. I’d have occasional panic attacks, but just figured they were a normal thing and didn’t ever address it. My college boyfriend told me that I was “simply an irrational worrier” (thanks, dude). I do have a tendency to always think of the negative possibility and fixate on it. But it never has affected my day-to-day life.
That is until now. Regretfully. When I am six months pregnant with my second child.
I did a bit of research on prenatal depression and anxiety, you know, since I’m always on Dr. Google anyway (always a mistake, don’t listen to him!). According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, up to 23% of pregnant women experience depression (Wait, what?). If you include anxiety in that mix, the number increased to 70%.
Seriously? Over half of expectant women experience bouts of anxiety and/or depression during pregnancy, yet you never hear about it? Frustrating. Why? Because when you are pregnant and depressed, the main feeling you have is that you are alone.
My anxiety with this pregnancy stems from an abnormal ultrasound we had at 12 weeks, followed by a bacterial infection that I have not been able to clear, even after three rounds of antibiotics. I’m terrified of everything that goes into my body, thinking that it is going to harm the baby or send me into premature labor. But then again, the infection, if it isn’t addressed, could send me into premature labor.
Honestly, I feel hopeless.
It is taking a toll on my health, my marriage, and my family. And it is awful.
I knew the anxiety was becoming an issue when I’d need a tissue the second I’d walk through the door at my OB’s office. Whenever anyone asks me how I am feeling, or how the pregnancy is going, I muster up a smile and a blanket statement, “Oh everything is good, I’m just tired!” all while holding back tears and trying not to break down.
I am avoiding and ignoring this pregnancy.
And that brings the guilt, which just makes the depression worse. I’ve lied about how far along I am. I wear baggy clothes so that no one asks questions. I even refrained from telling friends and family about the pregnancy until 16 weeks, which was way too long. Ive avoided social media, which explains my lack of posting. I know this pregnancy is a blessing because not all women are able to experience the feelings I have of this little guy moving inside of my belly, which again brings on more guilt. Thus continues the never-ending cycle of thoughts going around in my head at all times.
If left unaddressed or untreated, prenatal anxiety can have detrimental effects on both mom and baby. This usually is because when mom isn’t doing well, baby probably isn’t either. Most women are either oblivious or in denial about depression, therefore never bring it up to their providers.
This was my downfall, until I had a massive breakdown in front of my OB. She promptly wrote me a medication for the anxiety, which I still have mixed feeling about. You know you have anxiety issues when you have anxiety about taking your anxiety medication…
I don’t write this post for sympathy. If anything, sympathy makes it worse. I’m writing this for all of the mamas out there who might be experiencing the same thing I am. If you found this post because you were searching for answers to prenatal anxiety and/or depression, I’m sorry that I don’t have any. But please talk with your doctor about what you are feeling. You are not alone, and you are not expected to handle this by yourself. Out mom minds trick us into thinking we have it all together with all of the answers, but sometimes we don’t.
And that is okay.