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The Pre-Baby Blues – Recognising and Treating Antenatal Depression

Posted in News on February 2, 2017

Unlike postnatal depression, a term that many of us are familiar with, there is far less awareness of antenatal depression. Recent studies have shown that antenatal depression is just as common as postnatal depression, but often goes undetected.

The first study in Ireland into antenatal depression, conducted by Trinity College Dublin and the Irish Obstetric Services, indicates that antenatal depression is probably more common in Ireland than in most other EU countries.

Recognising and treating antenatal depression is crucial, not only for mum but for baby too, as depression during pregnancy has been shown to increase the chances of development problems during infancy. Antenatal depression has been linked to brain development and behavioural development disadvantages. In some cases, depression during pregnancy has also been linked to psychiatric disorders in adult life.

Pregnancy is typically a time of happiness, fulfilment and joy. Perhaps because of this, depression during pregnancy can be harder for women to recognise, and harder for those who love them to recognise and accept.

It’s not uncommon to experience shifting emotions during pregnancy. However, if you are experiencing the signs below, for any extended period of time, you may have prenatal depression:

Common Causes

Hormone imbalances during pregnancy can lead to prenatal depression. Other contributing factors can include being rundown by pregnancy sickness and tiredness, anxiety over the coming motherhood, and money or relationship worries. Typical concerns reported by women who are experiencing depression during pregnancy include:


Symptoms of antenatal depression can surface at any stage during pregnancy. Although more common with women who have suffered from depression in the past, it is by no means inevitable. A depression free history also doesn’t guarantee that you won’t develop depression during pregnancy.

Antenatal depression is characterised by higher than normal levels of worry about the birth and motherhood. Symptoms can include tearfulness, emotional detachment, chronic anxiety, lack of energy and feeling isolated or guilty.


If you are suffering from any of the signs and symptoms above, it may be helpful to consider these recommendations by the UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists:


It’s important that you speak with your midwife or GP if you are feeling low during pregnancy. There are various antenatal depression treatments available to help. People respond differently to different treatments so it is really important that you speak with your GP or other specialist services and organisations.

Treatments available include:

Getting Better

It’s important to remember that you are not alone. Particularly during pregnancy, suffering from depression can feel very isolating and confusing. It’s important to talk about how you are feeling and try to be proactive and seek help. With the right help and support, things can get better.

For more information, advice and support you may want to visit these websites:

Postnatal Depression Ireland (PND) – providing support and friendship to those suffering post-natal depression

Post Natal Depression and Cuidiu Support in Cork

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