Life Lessons: Antepartum depression
Pregnancy is a time of change for any woman and while it's usually a happy time, for some women it can be just the opposite.
It's a condition called antepartum depression and doctors say it impacts between 14 and 23 percent of pregnancies.
Meghan Ott of Laury's Station, Lehigh Co., recalls the paralyzing depression she felt when pregnant with 10-month-old Caroline.
"I am the last person who could get this. I am a school teacher. Kids are my life and suddenly when I was pregnant, I had no interest in having a baby anymore," says Meghan.
She says at 25 weeks pregnant, she didn't want to eat, felt like sleeping all the time and was crying most of the time.
She says, "It took over my life. Things I used to enjoy just didn't bring me joy anymore."
Megan reached out to Dr. Christi Weston, a psychiatrist with Lehigh Valley Health Network.
"Antepartum depression is a depression while a woman is pregnant, before she delivers. Basically the symptoms are very similar to a regular depressive episode, including low interest, low mood and getting no pleasure out of doing anything," says Dr. Weston.
And because pregnancy is supposed to be a happy time, depressed women can be afraid to speak up.
Dr. Weston says, "They do feel guilty, they feel shameful. They're afraid they're not going to be a good mother because they're having these feelings and so most women suffer in silence."
Meghan wants other women to know it's okay to ask for help.
"If you're not feeling right or you feel like something is wrong, trust your gut, push your doctor," because depression should not be part of pregnancy.
"Thanks to medication and therapy, I am doing great. I love being a mother," says Meghan.
Experts say depression that is not treated in pregnancy can be dangerous for both mother and baby and should be addressed as soon as possible.
There is a post-partum support group at Lehigh Valley Health Network that invites women with antepartum depression to participate.
Call 610-402-CARE for more information.
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