Handling Depression in Pregnancy

Handling Depression in Pregnancy

I was 5 months pregnant. Well beyond the drama and throes of first trimester when I noticed that for some reason, I was having unusual mood swings.

Now I’m a mix of choleric, sanguine and melancholy, according to Tim Lahaye’s temperament description, most probably a 40:35:25 combo and that basically means that based on that assessment, I am slightly more choleric and sanguine than I am melancholic which also means that most of the time, I’m the serious minded yet upbeat merry go round kinda girl. I can be determined but I also love to have fun. I love my personal time too but sometimes I get moody over something that is absolutely nothing Well.. it had to be so because when I look back on it later, I wonder what it was in it that stole my joy initially. But basically, I am more fun than I get moody. At least I hope so 😊.

So when I hit 5 months in pregnancy and started getting angry, upset and moody over little or nothing, I knew it wasn’t normal. I mean stuff that I know shouldn’t get me down was looking like a mountain hill, almost impossible to climb with my already protruding belly.

Initially I took it as a phase and thought to wait it out but when I started making terrible emotional decisions, I knew I had to look into it seriously. Because my feelings could make me make some bad decisions but only me would get to suffer the consequences of those decisions. My feelings won’t epp me. If anything, they’ll join me in the pity party, in the most condemning way possible.

So with a definite decision to find a solution, I stormed the internet. Now in pregnancy, internet research should come second, after your doctor’s advice and commendation so I reported to my doctor how I was feeling, hoping to get some cool tips on how to manage it. Lol. Dude just looked at me and said “it’s normal” And that he hopes I am not shouting at my husband. I looked at him, admittedly nodding because I was already at that point. Thankfully, I married an amazing man who is deeply understanding and knows how to make me laugh at Indian movies and trust me, I hate Indian movies with a deep ancient passion ( sincere apologies to zeeworld fans, Ma bi nu).

Well, it seemed I wasn’t going to get any solution tips from the doctor and I knew I couldn’t go on spending the rest of my pregnancy acting up, even if the depression started later and I had 2 weeks to go. So I decided to find me some solutions and that was when I realized that this menace affects a WHOLE lot of women and no thanks to the popular myths of pregnancy and it’s woes, women have come to accept them as part of the journey. Worse still, for some, it starts out really early in pregnancy and these women get to literally live with it till they put to bed. No. That’s not good at all. Pregnancy is a blessing and if you are a Christian, you have a greater chance of really enjoying the journey. It all depends on the disposition you take and what you choose to do. Thank God for women like Jackie Mize ( she wrote supernatural childbirth) whose confessions show us we can control a lot of stuff in pregnancy, including our emotions.
One line in her confessions I love so much is – ‘ I will not be subject to my emotions but they are subject to God (supernatural childbirth page 114 paragraph 3). To that I added ‘ The Peace and Joy of The Lord guards and garrisons my heart in Christ Jesus’.

So today, I’ll be sharing stuff I learnt including those God taught me to do, to manage my emotions because I knew I had to get God involved to make my journey easier. But before I continue, I want to issue a disclaimer. This is NOT IN ANY WAY intended to replace your doctor’s advice or recommendations. No. They are stuff I learnt that helped me and can help you but I strongly suggest you pass them by your doctor, especially if you’re having a complicated pregnancy, before you do any one of them, except of course, the confessions. Those work in any situation and at any time. In fact, if you’re pregnant at all, please pass them by your doctor. Most of them are harmless in pregnancy and relatively easy to do but pregnancies are different, and so besides the confessions, most of the others should be tailored to suit you and the stage and/or type of pregnancy you are at/have.

Let’s start with the definition of depression. According to the American Psychiatric Association;
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

• Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
• Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
• Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
• Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
• Loss of energy or increased fatigue
• Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
• Feeling worthless or guilty
• Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
• Thoughts of death or suicide

Source – www.psychiatry.org

Now, taking it closer home,

“Depression during pregnancy, or antepartum depression, is a mood disorder just like clinical depression. Mood disorders are biological illnesses that involve changes in brain chemistry.

During pregnancy, hormone changes can affect the chemicals in your brain, which are directly related to depression and anxiety. These can be exacerbated by difficult life situations, which can result in depression during pregnancy.

What are the signs of depression in pregnancy?

Women with depression usually experience some of the following symptoms for 2 weeks or more:

• Persistent sadness
• Difficulty concentrating
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Loss of interest in activities that you usually enjoy
• Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or hopelessness
• Anxiety
• Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
• Change in eating habits”

Source -www.americanpregnancy.org

What can trigger depression- this list is almost inexhaustible because emotional challenges are not typically same for everyone. But some examples include a negative self image rooted in how you are possibly feeling or how you think you look ( you know..big fat ugly. Which is definitely not true. Pregnancy is beautiful and if you let yourself bask in it, you’ll discover you’ll start to glow from within), money issues, disillusions, issues at work or business, challenges in relationships excabated by moody feelings etc.

So if any of these hit home or feel like an experience you’ve had a lot lately or you know a preggy mama who’s had them, any of these below could help. But like I first said, get your doctor’s consent first.

Get in the Word and ramp up your confessions. I guess that would pretty much be the first, especially if you are a daughter of God who KNOWS the enemy shouldn’t be messing with your mind. For me, I didn’t grab a whole lot of scriptures basically because I believe in the quality of a scripture deeply rooted in you than in the quantity of scriptures you know off hand but have no real effect in your life because well.. you haven’t driven them in. (Priscilla Shirer taught me this). So these six scriptures did it for me. I spent time with them till they literally became part of me. I always ask God to make His word so much a part of me that it becomes like salt mixed into food – inseparable.

1) This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalms 118:24 NLT
This scripture reminds me that everyday is a gift from God so I’m not going to share it with anger, defeat thoughts or sadness because that would be taking God’s gift and sharing it with the enemy, wholeheartedl

2) And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:15 NLT
This second scripture taught me that I have been called to live in peace so anything trying to steal my peace is definitely not sent by God. If it makes me loose my mind, it’s not from God so I’ll have to take my peace back over that situation or circumstance.

3) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 NLT
This third scripture taught me not to worry about anything before and after I pray about it. I learnt that if it was enough to bother me, it was enough to talk to God about, no matter how small it seemed. And I will talk it out with God till my peace comes back and that discussion could take various forms and happen in different ways – while praying, whilst driving or commuting, while doing anything else even through journaling. The most important thing is that I’m speaking with God in my heart and no one else needs to know I’m having a conversation. It’s just God and I.

4) Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Philippians 4:4 NLT
I received this fourth verse as an instruction I was not willing to disobey or discard, because it IS an instruction. A simple one. REJOICE! So I can break into a dance and have a praise party all by myself no matter how I feel. Not because my emotions aren’t weighing me down but because emotions and feelings are bad leaders but good followers. If I dance long enough, my emotions and feelings will swing to support me. Try it.

5) You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalms 16:11 NLT
This verse taught me that God will always sort me out and show me the path to take that will bring life(solution) and give me joy (because I will have results), so no need getting worked up and overwhelmed. I collected that one and I kept it very well inside my heart especially for those times when the enemy comes with his stupid rhetorical questions that aren’t necessarily meant for you to answer, just for you to think and start to be afraid. Questions like – what will you do now? How will this happen? Who will you go to? Jamb questions that God’s words has already sorted out.

6) You will live in joy and peace. Isaiah 55:12a NLT
This last scripture I took as a prophetic injunction telling me that God has ordained me to live in joy and peace. Any other feeling is counterfeit and except I wanted to play low, my joy and peace was literally in my hands.

So with these scriptures, I built a list of confessions, something simple but deeply rooted but what I did first was to let the Word take root in my heart. You might not need to spend time at first digesting the word before you start to confess but doing that makes the results faster. In the long run, the power is in the consistency, whether you digest it first or not, just keep saying it.

You also do not have to use these scriptures exactly. There are a million and one scripture verses you can use, words that will speak personally to you. You can download the Bible app on your phone and type joy and then peace in the search box and a whole lot of scriptures will come up. Receive them and enjoy 😊

Worship. Oh worship. You can’t focus on bigness and see littleness at same time. That’s what worship does. When you worship, it’s not really about what God has done, it’s mostly about WHO God is. And as you worship, your focus shifts. What seemed to loom so large suddenly becomes so small you might not feel it again. And because worship involves your heart, your emotions and of course your feelings, the music affects the way you feel. The feelings that seemed to overwhelm you a while back now turn back to lift God up.

Praise. Praise is thanking God for what He has done and most times, it gets into dancing mode which shakes off the beast of depression. So worship. Praise. Choose Christian songs in genres and languages that minister to you. Go to YouTube and invest time searching out those songs that speak to you or if you don’t have all that data, meet those guys in verified phone stores who download music to get some heavily anointed songs. And dance the depression away. Sadness can’t stay where joy is. It’s like light and darkness. The two can never meet. Darkness will always flee in the presence of light.

Talk to God. Tell Him how you feel. God is more real that your bestie and even your husband and you see all those things you’re feeling that you can’t seem to put into words, God understands them. As in God totally gets them and you can trust Him with how you feel because He won’t judge you at all. He’s caring like that. A caring Papa. So gist God. And you don’t have to wait till prayer time, like I said earlier. When you start to feel those strange stuff, start talking to God.

Speak to your emotions. Yes. Because they can hear you. They have no right messing you up that way. Speak some sense into your emotions the way Jesus spoke to the storm and command them to chill. And do that as soon as you feel the slightest strange emotion. As you speak to God telling Him how you feel, face those emotions and speak to them and back it up with your confessions.

Go for a walk. Get some fresh hair. Remember these things are sometimes chemical build-ups the enemy takes advantage of so get out that door and do some natural things that can help and a walk has been proven to be a really good anti-depressant.

Pamper yourself. Take yourself out often. Part of depressive feelings is that feeling of ‘no one cares’. Well someone does. God. And someone else too. You. Self love and self leadership are powerful. Love up on you and spoil yourself often, especially in pregnancy. It’s not easy to carry a baby around for nine months. You can’t even drop the load. Na God o. So go on a date night with God and your spouse if possible and spoil yourself. You deserve it joo. A note though, do not overindulge, especially on unhealthy food and spending too much money. Try to pamper yourself at places that will give you more healthy options especially in food and drinks and also go to places that might not necessarily be food and drinks, places like the beach, spa etc. Try not to overindulge so you don’t go on a guilt trip next.

Take Ice Cream. Honestly, this is the major booster for me, physically speaking. Nothing like cold creamy sweetness going down your throat on those days you feel like giving punches. It helps. Trust me it does. But do the healthy ones. Because Ice cream can typically contain some stuff unhealthy for your baby, I usually do cold stone or chicken Republic. Because I want some verified places. I don’t like roadside, I don’t want to play with that in pregnancy. I can do that when I’m not pregnant but in pregnancy, I’ve got to be extremely careful. I also wait till I’m in second trimester before I start to indulge in that.
These choices might be expensive but it’s better. So if I need to save up to do them, I do so with glee looking forward to that time. Again I repeat, don’t overindulge.

Cry if you have to. Yes. Crying is not wrong in itself. It’s the way we cry that can be wrong. Cry to release your emotions not like someone who’s hope less. Crying can help you feel better but you have to be intentional about it. You just let it all out. The feelings, the overwhelm etc. And after crying, clean your face and put your smile on, put the cry behind you and move on. There are greater things ahead. Again, it’s not wrong to cry, it wrong to cry like you don’t have hope. Cry to release your emotions and let it all out and after that, you’ll feel better.

Appraise the situation. Depression has a way of making a mountain out of a molehill. So sit down, pray about it and ask God to show you the truth about the situation and then look at the situation critically and in all honesty. Ask yourself what exactly is making you sad here? Why are you loosing your joy over this matter? Is it worth it? Is it something you can change, something you have to face nonetheless so the earlier you start out the better? Or something you can’t do anything about? What exactly is the issue? Sit down and look at it and you might be surprised to find out that what you think is making you unhappy is just a surface issue. The real problem lies beneath all the turmoil you feel. And when you discover that, you are better empowered to address the situation at the root and avoid masked repeated future occurrences.

Reassess your circle. This one is key though I strongly suggest you don’t do it in the depth of depression because you might just be making a critical emotional decision. Your circle of relationships affects you as a person and we are all relational beings. Anything relational is emotional because we have relationships from our hearts. So if you constantly feel depressed, reassess your relationships and make adjustments if need be but do it after you’re out of the bout of depression, before another one tries to hit you. And do so prayerfully.

All of these tips are intended to shorten and stop the cycle of depression from repeating itself and they are mostly dependent on you for a reason. You have control over you alone. You can count on two people to be there for you – God and yourself. The best of men at their very best are still men so you don’t want your results dependent on any one. That said, if you have someone you can count on, especially your spouse, please do involve them as often as you can. But even for those whose spouses are not physically present, you can still rock your pregnancy. I know pregnancy can be hard if you’re alone but then you are not alone, you have God and I believe, your husband, even if you have him on same table less often than you desire or he is not present with you. That’s why most of the ideas point to you..and God

Now, there are a couple of things you should never do especially when having bouts of depression

– Don’t overindulge on anything, like I said earlier. Except of course The Word of God. That does not have an overdose

– Don’t overanalyse. Trying to understand everything especially by yourself.

– Don’t seek unhealthy dependence on any man. Don’t make your joy dependent on anyone being around or helping you, not even your spouse. Your spouse should be there but no one can take God’s place in your heart.

– Don’t play blame games. Not on you. Not on anyone. Blames never solved a problem. If there are relationships you need to reassess, by all means prayerfully assess them but don’t blame anyone for the way you feel. Blaming takes the power to make changes, away from you. So take responsibility and make your life work.

C’est Fini

😊

Love you loads and …live a fruitful God-Defined life!

8 thoughts on “Handling Depression in Pregnancy

  1. It’s a long and interesting read, Aijay. I think it contains practical advice for anyone, not just pregnant women. At least, I found it useful and I’m not pregnant.

    Instead of ice cream, I go for Dolait Yoghurt with Fruits. When frozen, it tastes really good and boosts my mood. It’s found in most superstores and provides a healthy alternative to ice cream, in my opinion.

    Well done, Aijay. You look absolutely amazing.

    1. Thank you so much ma’am. That is a beautiful insight. Now am looking forward to getting this yougurt. With fruits. That’s something close to heaven. Ahh!! Lol
      Thanks sis. God bless you big!!!

  2. Aww… Look at how amazing you look!
    Enyim, this is indeed a good read.
    So many preggies suffer in silence and also in ignorance.
    The Word of God is my comfort. I run to God like a little child. I can’t get enough of My Father.
    Pregnancy is much easier when you understand how much God loves you and how present He is.
    It also gets easier with an understanding and caring spouse.
    And one another thing is, “your village “. I think it’s very important to have a village of helpers even before pregnancy. These are divine helpers God strategically places in your life. They are people you should love genuinely and people who love you genuinely. Sometimes, they may not look like people you would normally count as friends/brothers/sisters but with an eye of love, you will be able to identify them. If you have these people in your life, they are a blessing… Honestly! If any preggie doesn’t have them, just ask God to send you “helpers assigned to you “. God is a Good Father. He will answer your prayer but you must genuinely be prepared to love them back.
    See me writing my own posts in your comments section…lol… I’m outta here juo! 😂
    God bless you, Sis!
    I loved reading this post.
    Please keep writing!
    We miss your writing.

    1. Thank you so so much. Please feel free to write your own post joo. You know you inspire me a whole lot… Thank you so so Much. God bless you Enyim

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