Advice Column: Pre-natal Depression and Marital Struggles

 Dear Hailey,
 
I’ve been having a difficult time with my marriage. Mainly I’ve been feeling unhappy a lot and I had tied it to postpartum depression except that it had started a couple months prior to the delivery and had been a lot of ups and downs ever since. On the worst days I want out of the marriage but then I stress about our kid, almost kids plural. On the best days I feel like it’s going to be okay but I feel like I have lost so much emotion toward my husband and I don’t know how to get it back. Thank you for this opportunity!

Depressed

 
Dear Depressed,
 
Pre-natal depression, which is also known as antenatal depression, is a very real mental health condition. Its more common that most people think, but it’s not talked about very much, and there haven’t been many efforts to bring awareness to it.
 
One fact you need to know about depression (pre-natal depression as well as other types) is that it affects everyone differently. It can dull your emotions. It can also bring out unfamiliar emotions that you haven’t experienced before. It can make you sad, resentful, and angry. It turns everything upside down.
 
Unfortunately, those we love tend to get the worst of this. With the regular hormonal waves of pregnancy, the strain pregnancy puts on your body, exhaustion, and you have the recipe for some misery. It can be hard to feel affectionate towards anyone with all of that going on.
 
If you feel your marriage could use some work, seek counseling. A mental health professional or religious leader are both good options. However, if these feelings you are having toward your husband (or lack of feelings) feel incongruent with what is going on in your marriage and household, then consider what depression does to emotions. Know that your depression could be influencing how you feel about your husband.
 
An activity you can do at home is write down a list of strengths that you see in your husband. Have him do the same for you. Remember why you fell in love and got married in the first place. Reminisce on the good times you have had together. Make sure you are having regular time alone and have a chance to connect on a husband and wife level regularly. This is one way to bring those emotions and memories back to the surface.
 
I strongly encourage you to make an appointment with your doctor and talk to them about what you have been experiencing if you have not already. Talk to your husband, let him know what is going on as well.
 
In the mean time, know that this is temporary. Practice consistent self-care, don’t feel bad about asking those in your support system for help with your child or tasks around the house.
 
Some women find that their depression is exacerbated in winter time, (or only appears in winter) which is known as seasonal affective disorder. If you suspect that this may be contributing to your depression, make sure you are getting plenty of sunlight, and regular mild exercise (nothing strenuous unless you have been doing it your entire pregnancy).
 
You can get through this, and cut yourself some slack. You have so much going on in your life right now, its enough to make anyone feel a little off and flat. I wish you luck!
 

Hailey

Posted in Q&A

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