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Pre and post natal depression

What are pre and postnatal depressions and how to deal with them?

Pre and postnatal depression - definition and symptoms

Pre and postnatal depression – definition

Perinatal depression is a depressive state that usually affects the mother, during and after pregnancy. We distinguish :

  • Prenatal depression, which takes place during pregnancy

  • Postpartum or postnatal depression after the birth of the child

It is a serious mental disorder that should be distinguished from the simple “baby blues”, which is a period of fleeting doubt. According to the results of current research, it seems that this disorder encountered in the mother can have consequences on the development of the child.


Pre and postnatal depression – symptoms

Pre and postpartum depression are real forms of depression. If baby blues occurs frequently in young mothers (almost 50%), it resolves spontaneously and does not last more than a few days.
When it is no longer an episode but a prolonged state, it is rather a perinatal depressive state. The subject then has the following symptoms:

  • Intense and prolonged sadness

  • A loss of vital momentum and interest in pleasant daily activities. During prenatal depression, this can result in a lack of interest in pregnancy In the case of postnatal depression, the mother can also present an absence of pleasure in taking care of her child

  • Intense fatigue and lack of energy, even at the start of the day

The subject may suffer from this perinatal depressive disorder, if the symptoms mentioned last for several weeks, permanently.

The consequences of
perinatal depression on the child

Perinatal depression seems, according to recent research, to have consequences for the mother and her child.
Thus, a perinatal disorder can generate, for mother and child, a predisposition to depression which can occur later.
In addition, prenatal depression seems to have an impact on the development of biological systems associated with stress in the fetus. Post-natal depression, on the other hand, generally implies a lesser involvement of the mother in the attention and care given to her child. Subsequently, this can result in children having difficulty creating healthy social bonds and attachments.
Finally, perinatal depressive disorders can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

The causes of pre and post-natal depressions

Current research does not identify with certainty the precise causes of perinatal depression.
The hypotheses currently put forward relate to the mental condition of the mother, her lifestyle, her diet, her hormonal development, but also involve social factors.
It is therefore very likely that this type of disorder is caused by the addition of various factors, which can vary from one individual to another.

Pre and postnatal depression -
key figures

Depressive disorders are generally more common in women. It is estimated that 19.2% of women may experience major or minor depression after childbirth and that 7.1% of new mothers have clearly defined symptoms of depression. In fact, it turns out that the rates of prenatal and postnatal depression are quite similar and do not differ much from those of women who are not pregnant or have just given birth.
Finally, prenatal depression is one of the most predictive factors for postnatal depression. This is logically explained by the fact that these disorders are caused by various factors, often present during and after pregnancy.

How to treat pre and post-natal depression?

In order to treat perinatal depression, psychotherapeutic support is generally necessary. The healing process is based on the combination of individual monitoring by a specialist with appropriate drug treatment, when necessary.

In any case, if perinatal depression is proven, expert management should be sought as soon as possible to avoid harmful effects for the child.

The entourage also plays a crucial role and can compensate for the relative absence of the mother near her child, in the case of postnatal depression. When friends and family mobilize, it is possible to prevent the child from suffering from the repercussions of the mother’s depressive disorder.