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Experiences of ante-natal depression

(7 Posts)
JustShaggy Sun 14-Jun-09 14:41:02

Sorry, this is a bit long ...

I suffered very badly with depression approx 15 years ago following a violent attack. At one stage I was almost hospitalised because the psychiatrist looking after me thought I would committ suicide. I almost did. With intensive therapy and drugs, I recovered, although do have lingering effects. For example, I can't go for walks in the countryside by myself for fear of being attacked in an isolated place (among other challenges). Despite these obvious drawbacks on my lifestyle, I would not describe myself as having ever relapsed into a proper depression (which I am very very clear is totally different to 'the blues' or 'emotional sadness').

I fell pregnant recently, and despite planning the pregnancy and wanting a baby, I felt overwhelmingly anxious, depressed, and had very few 'happy' feelings about being pregnant almost from the moment I found I was pregnant. So bad, that my mother suggested I could always give the baby up for adoption, and also told me that a ^child would know it wasn't wanted^ - from this, I have no doubt that I conveyed my misery to her.

I also had 'death thoughts', as opposed to suicide thoughts. For example, I hoped I would die in labour rather than have thoughts about actively killing myself. I didn't tell anyone about this. I also - for the first time in many years - was re-playing the violent attack on me from 15 years ago with no real idea why this was suddenly an issue for me again now.....?!!

In my first appointment with my GP after I found I was pregnant, she asked me if I had any questions and the first thing I raised was a real fear I would backslide into depression - but I was thinking _post-natal depression_, that's what I was scared might happen. She told me that if I ever had any feelings that I might be becoming depressed I should tell her. I assured her I was highly sensitised to the signals and queues and that I would.... but I didn't.

Since then, I have had a MMC. Despite my negative feelings about being pregnant, I was hit sideways when I learned the baby had died so on a deep subconcious level, felt glad that somewhere in me I did want the baby (otherwise why would I be so unhappy about it dying?). I found this hugely confusing because I would have almost thought I would have felt relieved given the awfulness of the anxiety I had had....?!!

On Friday I had a surgical procedure and found that empotionally hard, but OK, and feeling I needed to move on.

On Saturday I woke up, and it was as if a switch had been flicked in my head - night and day - and I was suddenly myself again. I am now looking back on myself with a clear vision and realising I was properly depressed again - just as badly as I was 15 years ago - but that I wasn't recognising it.

I am back to wanting a baby, wanting to start a family, but now with a sobering realisation that _something happened_ during pregnancy that took me back to a place where I lost intellectual control of my own thought processes. I take my depression 15 years ago very seriously because I nearly died from it, so had thought I would always do what needed to be done when it started to happen again. It did, but I am seeing that I got 'lost' far quicker than I thought possible and too quickly for me to spot what was really going on. It really scares me.

I just don't know what to do?! I am really educated - probably know more about depression than the average GP in the UK - but in spite of that got lost again when I thought I would never allow myself to slide back there. No idea how the hell that happened!

I have to say upfront that I haven't got a great deal of confidence in the NHS system of healthcare so am especially worried going forwards and thinking I need to understand this myself, and set up support or at least make sure my DH knows what he needs to do (because quite clearly, I get lost in that space). DH actually wondered if we should consider not having children ... I don't want to get into that as an option...

I am also VERY scared that if I talk about this to health professionals, that I might put myself in a situation where people think I could be a risk to my child and possibly interfere in an unhelpful intrusive way - and I don't want to open that door. I am a private person, and that alone would make things a lot worse.

Would be very interested in hearing if other women have had similar experiences of ante-natal depression and how they managed and what they did.

makipuppy Sun 14-Jun-09 18:27:06

Hello, I'm very sorry about your mmc and for what you've been through. I don't have the sort of knowledge about depression that others will surely be along with later, but I did want to say that being pregnant has brought back a traumatic episode from my past I really believed I had begun to deal with - but which is now like yesterday.

It's hard to tell what is antenatal depression and what is 'just' hormones.

I hope you find an understanding doctor you can trust and wish you lots of luck.

thaliablogs Sun 14-Jun-09 19:47:40

I'm so sorry for your loss.

I don't have personal experience of this, but know people who have - it's very common in the infertility community, of which I'm a part. What I do know is that any professional you confide in will be INCREDIBLY unlikely to intervene in an unhelpful way. They are very focused on helping you have a healthy relationship with your baby and will want to support that.

Several antidepressants are classified as safe for pregnancy, I know Wellbutrin is one, but your doc will have to review this.

Glad things are clearer now. I hope they get better from here.

TotalChaos Sun 14-Jun-09 19:58:14

sorry to hear about your mmc. I have not been through a traumatic experience but have experience of relapsing into OCD/depression in PG. Like you, I almost wilfully ignored the signs - I suppose in the hope it would go away - but then at around 15-20 weeks I got very much worse, so had to seek help (gp useless, but hospital fab, referred me to a good psychiatrist, put on a low dose of Prozac). On being discharged from the psych, I had it written into my care plan that I should be allowed to taken meds during any subsequent pg. At no point during this did I have any sort of awful intervention - no SS involvement, had a fairly crap HV come round weekly for the first few months, but that was all in the intervention front. The medics I dealt with were great - supportive, non-judgmental, interested in my welfare rather than just in me as vessel for baby.

I would say - go back to the GP you like best in the practice, and explain all that you went through, and your anxiety during the PG - and develop an action plan from there during a next pg. Might also be helpful for you to get some sort of specialist counselling re:the assault you went through.

JustShaggy Mon 15-Jun-09 14:32:19

Thanks very much for your responses. I had told my GP that I was feeling low after the miscarriage (I hadn't realised yet how serious it actually was) and she said she would refer me to the 'nurses counselling service' - any idea what this is and how it works?

makipuppy, my DH thinks my recall of traumatic time may have been triggered by the fact that I felt the same way I did 15 years ago - i.e. the feelings brought it back rather than other way around. I think he may be right because that was the only other time I have been properly depressed. Is it possible that might be what's happening with you...?

Does anyone know if there is a clear link between pregnancy hormones and serotonin and/or hormones/chemicals that trigger depression. I am still stunned at how it was like a switch in my head - one moment in a very bad way, and then wake up the next with the fog lifted....??? FWIW - I've never ever been able to take the birth control pill; it makes me feel miserable as hell. I'm now wondering if this is all linked in some way....???

madmissy Mon 15-Jun-09 17:29:54

Not sure how much help i will be but i am currently pg with baby no 3

dd1 i was very sick uring the pg and as well as other factors i became depressed all seemed to be ok when she was born but i would re lapse and have some dark days (good in reflection to now!)

dd2 came along fairly soon after alot went on in our lives and sure enough i became down and again had a crappy pg after she was born i was OK but it was still there

at this point i had not seen anyone midwife with dd2 was amazing and very helpful to me however come sept/oct ;last year i hit a real bad breaking point my dh forced me to the gp im now under consultant care and have been on anti depressants (back on them now i have got past 12 weeks)

i have a huge support network around me which i have never had before.

however like you (and you were not alone in thinking what you did whilst pg) i would wake up hoping that it was a bad dream or worse....

i have since over come that and whilst this pg is very sudden its very much wanted i have always strived for 3 children

my main concern at present is my anxiety thats very bad at the moment. likeyou i was attacked so going out is hard and non existant at present when i am alone.

i suppose my main thing to say to you was that you are not alone.......

i have the comfort in knowing that i have a huge support network and that they are aware of my problems and that they will help me

so i suppose my story is unfinished as at the moment i still have problems but i will get there

madmissy Mon 15-Jun-09 17:32:46

oh and just to add that my new medication as the others were very high and not used in pg is sertraline

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