|Anything I can do to relieve this depression other than medication?
One of the most helpful ways to ease depression during
pregnancy is to try and establish the cause. For some woman
without close friends and family nearby to confide in, it
can just be loneliness. So making an effort to find the
right people to talk to when things are tough can be incredibly
helpful. Never underestimate how huge and profound the physical
and emotional changes of pregnancy can be. Just having that
fact acknowledged by someone who doesn’t think you
are making a big fuss, can really lift the burden.
It may be that you are afraid that you won’t have
the ability to care for a baby. What can be helpful to ease
this fear is to try and establish contact with some new
moms so that you can chat to them and watch how they cope.
Sometimes it is again the isolation that allows your brain
to create all kinds of dire situations, and once you see
that they are just ordinary people like you, and that most
of them are just living moment to moment and doing just
fine, these fears may diminish. Some antenatal classes have
sessions where new moms can socialize with the pregnant
moms. You may have met some of the moms when they were pregnant,
and it is helpful to try and maintain contact once their
babies are born, and watch their progress. If you try to
steer your thoughts towards happy images of babies and memories
of your own childhood, this can also be cheering.
You really need to find someone to talk to who is knowledgeable
about what is normal in pregnancy. Sometimes the fear that
the aches and pains of pregnancy cannot possibly be normal,
might trigger depression. Your doctor will be able to set
your fears at rest, but you first have to make the effort
to communicate those fears. Often this is the hardest part.
Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen? He is unlikely
to laugh at your fears, but is more likely to tell you how
completely normal all your anxieties are.
But most of all, be kind to yourself. It’s a huge
job you are doing, so take care of yourself. Have some treats,
like a back massage or tea with a friend. Listen to your
body and try to do what it asks – like resting when
you are tired. Ask for help, and if you are really concerned
about the depression, speak to your doctor.
See www.pndsa.org.za for helpful advice on depression during pregnancy and motherhood.