Common symptoms of prenatal depression are chronic anxiety, incessant crying, feelings of guilt, lack of energy and constant relationship worries.
It is only within the last twenty years that prenatal depression, or antenatal depression as it is sometimes called, has been associated with pregnancy. Before this, postnatal depression was the only ‘depression‘ linked to pregnancy.
It’s a tricky one to diagnose as women who seek help for prenatal depression are often told it’s ‘just your hormones’.
Sadly, 1 in 3 women who have prenatal depression will go on to have postnatal depression – but early intervention can help.
Tamsyn Gill, 28, is mum to three-month-old Hazel, and lives in Somerset with partner Adam. She suffered with prenatal depression, and endured a horrific nine months of a pregnancy fraught with anxiety and sadness.
After losing her job, Tamsyn felt suicidal and had to move from her family home – leaving her husband – before she could finally get the support she needed. Here, she shares her story…
I had a very difficult pregnancy. I was hospitalised four times with HG.
I had OCD and anxiety before I got pregnant, so was very aware that I might get postnatal depression, but I’d never heard of prenatal depression before so wasn’t expecting that.
My pregnancy was very difficult, I suffered from HG really badly and was hospitalised four times for rehydration – there were some days I couldn’t even keep water down.
The HG is what started my troubles really, I felt so isolated with it.
I fell pregnant last September and by January I was so sick I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t leave the house, I couldn’t read or watch TV, I was just trapped with my own thoughts for a long time.
Throughout my pregnancy I felt very afraid and I was so worried that I was so ill I wouldn’t be able to look after my baby.
The illness made me doubt everything about myself. No one really knows, but suffering with it [HG] every day really gets you down, it doesn’t feel like it’s ever going to end.
During my pregnancy a lot of the medical professionals I came across, especially midwives, didn’t seem to know about HG and just treated it like I had morning sickness.
I was told that it would go away but it didn’t end at 12 weeks like the midwives told me it would. Some people would try to be supportive of it, and say ‘just eat a little bit’ but the point is you can’t eat anything at all.
At the beginning of my pregnancy we had just moved to Frome in Somerset. I had a part time job in a shop, but when I started calling in sick [because of the HG] they had to let me go.
With no job, I moved back to Cornwall so that my mum and sister could look after me. My partner still had to work in Froome so he drove down every weekend for about five months to see me – it was hard for us both.
When I got down to Cornwall, I got a lot worse. I was too afraid to leave the house or to do anything. Every day I would push myself to do things like go outside and talk to people but every day was a struggle.
I was at the point where I was suicidal because I couldn’t bear to be in agony any longer. I felt like I was like going through hell and didn’t know when it would end. – just getting out of bed, to face the day became a huge deal and I didn’t feel I could do it. I spent all day tense and anxious and very on edge, I was a total nervous wreck.
While in Cornwall I ended up getting a new midwife along with a mental health nurse, and I was finally told what I needed to hear – that it wasn’t just me, and that this was common and that a lot of my fears were normal.
It was so nice to have that support. It sounds so silly, but simply knowing that it wasn’t just me was amazing. I feel awful for people who don’t have that level of support, if I had been in a different position I honestly don’t think I would have got through it. I don’t want other women to go through what I did.
No one ever talks about what pregnancy can be like. I thought I was one of the only women who had ever gone through this. People need to talk more and be more honest about it.
After I gave birth I felt a massive difference – like I was almost back to feeling myself again, it was still really difficult but I didn’t know that the hormones in pregnancy effected me so badly, and other mums I’ve spoken to have said the same thing.
Because of this pregnancy, I’ll never have another child again. I’m too worried that I wouldn’t be able to look after my daughter, there’s no way I could go through that again.
You’re supposed to be so happy to be pregnant all the time, so it’s hard to be honest when it’s not going great. But we really need to be more honest about what pregnancy and giving birth is like really, no one should feel alone like I did.
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The PANDAS group has been amazing, it’s great that there’s a group of other mums that have experienced the same thing. I know I’ll have bad days and good days, I just have to get through it.
Anyone suffering join PANDAS and don’t be afraid to talk about what you’re going through no matter how bad the thoughts are – no one will judge you..