Antenatal Anxiety & Depression (During Pregnancy)

‘Antenatal anxiety or depression’ is the term for anxiety and/ or depression that occurs during pregnancy. This can look different for everyone.

Some expectant mums describe the experience as a lack of emotional connection to their unborn baby, or a resistance to the changes happening in their body. Some may feel pressure to be happy or excited about this part of the journey, while secretly feeling otherwise, i.e., depressed, anxious, or numb.

It is normal to experience a whole range of unexpected sensations and feelings when you’re pregnant and ride some steep hormonal waves, but one in ten women can develop more prolonged or intense moods, affecting their ability to function day to day.

If your symptoms have persisted for more than 2 weeks, it might be time to talk with someone.

There is support and treatment available during this time. You can talk to your GP about referring you to someone who specialises in the area or discuss medications that are safe to take during pregnancy.

The symptoms of antenatal anxiety & depression

pregnant woman alone on the bed experiencing antenatal anxiety

Here are some of the symptoms that may be present during antenatal anxiety/ depression. If you’re noticing anything that is unusual or unmanageable, please reach out for support.

  • Persistent worries about the health of your baby, despite check ups
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Constant sadness and crying for no obvious reason
  • Feeling constantly nervous, edgy, or panicky
  • Feeling irritable and easily annoyed 
  • Developing obsessive or compulsive behaviours Feeling detached from yourself or your environment.
  • Losing interest in the things that used to bring pleasure (exercise, eating, socialising)
  • Loss of interest in sex or intimacy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, feeling ‘brain fog’
  • Trouble sleeping or oversleeping
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Panic attacks (i.e., scary thoughts, racing heart, shortness of breath)
  • Risk taking (i.e., drug or alcohol use)
  • Thoughts about death or suicide

If you would like more information or access WACPPS services, feel free to contact our office, send us a message or put in an online referral. We are on a mission to create safe spaces for parents to talk openly about the weird, wonderful and honest realities of becoming a parent and the range of unexpected thoughts and feelings that arise.

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Western Australian Centre for Perinatal Mental Health & Parenting Support (WACPPS) provides services to help parents navigate the challenging but rewarding journey of parenting.

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If you have any questions about this article or Western Australian Centre for Perinatal Mental Health & Parenting Support (WACPPS), feel free to contact us.