Many women who suffer from depression during pregnancy have suicidal thoughts, reveals a survey conducted in the United Kingdom.
And the after-effects of the disease can be more severe than those of postnatal depression. The Royal College of Midwives survey and the Netmums website included 260 women who suffered from prenatal depression. This condition that occurs during pregnancy is less well known and less talked about than postnatal depression, which occurs after the baby is born. However, the disorder is believed to affect about 10% of pregnant women.
The survey found that more than 35% of the women surveyed, who developed depression during their pregnancy, had suicidal thoughts. These women, the report says, are at a greater risk of developing serious mental health problems than those with post-natal depression. And only 22% of those affected consulted their doctor or sought treatment for the illness.
According to experts, much more needs to be done to help women with depression.
For some pregnant women, instead of feeling a happy expectation for the birth of the baby, their condition generates a series of negative thoughts. This, say the experts, can lead to feelings of confusion, sadness, and guilt due to the absence of the emotions that a pregnant woman is expected to feel.
Although much is known and spoken about postnatal depression, very little has been mentioned and documented about depression during pregnancy. Although the survey was small, it showed that women affected in pregnancy are at greater risk of developing postnatal depression. It was found that 80% also suffered from the disease after the baby was born.
About 56% of the respondents had problems during their first pregnancy, but almost 66% said they had the disease during their second. Just over half of the participants said their illness had affected their relationship with their baby and 38% said they had problems bonding with their baby.
Only 30% had received any warning about prenatal depression from a midwife and most women said it took months for them to realize they had a problem.
Also, only 27% of the women said that someone had asked them how they were feeling emotionally during their pregnancy.
According to Cathy Warwick, executive president of the Royal College of Midwives, the survey showed an urgent need to identify and help women with pre- and post-natal depression.
“If we can identify these women as early as possible, we can prevent them from suffering much more serious mental health problems,” she says.
For her part, Sally Russell, co-founder of Netmums, a counseling website for new mothers, says that depression and anxiety can make life very complicated for the parents of a new baby.
“Midwives can be very helpful and reassuring, so they should be open with prospective parents about the disorder and should be trained to spot the signs of the illness.
“Sufferers often do not know who to talk to, so it is essential that they know they can be open and honest with midwives and talk about their feelings,” says Sally Russell.