Pregnancy causes all sorts of changes, and some of those can trigger mental health problems. Not only do you experience changes to your role, identity, relationship, career and body, there are also key changes happening in the brain which can trigger existing or new mental health issues.
The term perinatal refers to the period of time during or after a pregnancy. Perinatal anxiety, depression and PTSD are relatively common responses to the period of pregnancy and beyond.
Sometimes the conception, pregnancy, delivery and early days and weeks all go according to plan. Even when childbirth follows such a course, mental health problems can still occur. When one or more stages of this process is complicated, unplanned or traumatic, mental health problems become more likely.
The implications can be far reaching, not only for the mother but also in terms of the bonding process and therefore the emotional development of the newborn. Many mothers know this, which puts further pressure on them, making it even more difficult to recover.
We have a specialist perinatal psychology department and are well placed to assist. Rest assured our team is sensitive to the nuances of mental health concerns during this time, and will not judge you for any thoughts or feelings you may have. There is a range of treatments available that are safe to use during pregnancy and when breastfeeding.
Depression during or after pregnancy (Perinatal or postnatal depression)
Depression in and around pregnancy mirrors the symptoms of depression that occur outside of pregnancy. More nuanced symptoms typically include difficulty in gaining pleasure from the newborn and withdrawing from contact with the newborn and other family members. The level and duration of disturbance are different from the so-called “baby blues”.
Depression in or after pregnancy can be compounded by a fear of being judged for harbouring negative feelings and thoughts when others might expect this to be a time of joy. Our team will offer a non-judgmental place for you to speak freely and receive the necessary treatment.
Anxiety during or after pregnancy (Perinatal or postnatal anxiety)
Many women feel apprehensive during pregnancy and when faced with the challenges of a new baby. If you notice the anxiety getting in the way of your ability to function or care for your baby, it is more likely to be a level of anxiety needing assistance.
PTSD during or after pregnancy (Perinatal or postnatal PTSD)
This is likely to involve feelings of intense anxiety following a traumatic event such as a difficult delivery, stillbirth or sexual assault. Symptoms of PTSD may or may not pertain to events directly related to the pregnancy, and may relate to traumatic events that happened to take place while pregnant, such as a car accident.
In some cases the baby can trigger reminders of the traumatic event, leading the mother to experience flashbacks and intense anxiety. In a bid to not experience the high level of anxiety, the mother may avoid contact with her baby, making it difficult for the newborn and mother to bond.
There are relatively quick treatments for post-natal PTSD which are safe to use during and after pregnancy. Our team will work with you to assist you to resolve traumatic experiences and to aid bonding with the new baby.
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Dubai Healthcare City, right next door to City Hospital
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