Antepartum Depression and Anxiety

It’s been a while, yeah?

I started lagging on posts at the beginning of this year due to the work I was doing on websites for clients. Getting paid was a good reason to slack on my personal blog. But I didn’t realize that I was slowly starting to slip into something darker.

Shortly after getting pregnant in January, I started experiencing depression and increasing anxiety. I had shortness of breath, racing thoughts and a perpetual fear that something bad was about to happen. I mentioned this to the midwives I saw and they wanted to watch it. I couldn’t say for sure if I was experiencing something related to the normal ups and downs of pregnancy hormones or if it was something more. Being pregnant with two other young children, in the winter, in a town where you don’t know anybody is tough. Maybe it was just that.

Then we had a 20 week anatomy ultrasound.

There was something wrong with her heart. I hit bottom. Panic attacks, inability to concentrate, hot and cold flashes and nausea joined my list of worsening symptoms. I knew it was normal to be worried, but this was clearly something more.

Antepartum depression and anxiety are real and serious conditions that millions of pregnant women experience. Postpartum depression and anxiety are more commonly discussed, but more people are beginning to understand that it can happen much earlier. What makes it difficult to deal with is that so many of the symptoms can be blamed on the pregnancy or just “being hormonal.”

So what’s the difference? If the things that would normally cheer you up aren’t working, the symptoms are interfering with your ability to function, or you have thoughts of hurting yourself, it’s definitely time to talk to your provider. Postpartum Support International has many answers and resources for pregnant and postpartum women and their partners.

Don’t let anyone tell you that what you’re experiencing is normal. I was told by my midwife that: “Anybody would be worried in my situation.” But normal worry doesn’t include pulse-racing panic attacks, or the inability to eat or to think about anything else. (I changed providers the next day, by the way.)

Since getting help, I started feeling like myself within a few days. The change was so dramatic I couldn’t fathom how I had survived all those months feeling so scared and hopeless.

I am still worried about the baby. We don’t exactly know what the problem is right now; we will have to wait until she’s born in mid to late October. But the worry doesn’t control my life. I’m able to focus on enjoying and appreciating the present. I have faith that whatever comes we will survive it and be better for the experience.

I’m hoping to post 1-2 times a week. For next week I’m working on a post about the new butterfly exhibit at our nature center. There are also some strategies for coping with depression and anxiety that I want to share.



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