Pregnancy is a time of change. Not only will your body change, but so will your emotions. You may find that your emotions intensify, leaving you and your loved ones baffled. Feelings of inadequacy and depression are not unusual. They are the result of the constant change of hormones that are needed to create another human life. The first step to overcome these negative emotions is to understand them primarily. Then work through them to a better understanding of yourself and your capabilities as a mother and person.

Antepartum depression is not as commonly mentioned as postpartum depression. Antepartum is the depression you feel during pregnancy, rather than after labor and delivery. The American Association of Pregnancy estimates that around 20% of pregnant women experience this type of depression. If you have antepartum depression, you may have feelings of hopelessness, despair, anxiety, and guilt.

Even though it may seem debilitating to have these feelings of depression, there are ways you can fight them, and there are people out there wanting (and willing) to help you return to a healthy state of mind.

Things You Can Do:

Simplify Your Life. Excess stress can play a huge role in how you feel. If you’re feeling overly stressed, weed out the everyday events that aren’t necessary. One great way to see where to cut out the extra stress is to get organized. Write out everything you do during the week and start combining, reorganizing, and paring down. Cancel unnecessary meetings or get-togethers until you are sure you can handle the added stress.

Exercise. Because exercise releases endorphins, it will regulate your emotions. You will find that regular exercise can give you a new perspective on pregnancy, birth, motherhood, and life. If you aren’t currently exercising, start out slow. Make sure not to overwhelm yourself and tire yourself unnecessarily. Exercise is something you need to build up to. Remember that exercise can be fun; you just have to find the right routine or class.

Healthy Eating. Perhaps this doesn’t seem related to antepartum depression, but healthy eating can change how your body reacts to stress and depression. Eating the right foods and the right amount of healthy foods will give you more energy and improve your moods. It ensures that your body is getting the best nutrition for you and your baby. This means less stress for you.

Get Some Fresh Air and Sunshine. If you’ve been cooped up during your pregnancy, get out and enjoy the fresh air and the sunshine. If you can’t go outside and enjoy the weather, open up your blinds and windows and let the natural light in. Adequate sunlight is a natural mood booster.

Relax. Easier said than done, right? But, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with pregnancy, motherhood, or just life in general, take some time to relax and recuperate–emotionally and physically. Whether you take a few hours to nap, read, watch a movie, or go shopping, taking personal time can help ease your troubled emotions.

People You Can Talk To:

Support Groups. One of the most important things to remember is that you’re not alone; you are not the only one who feels this way. For some women, just knowing this is enough. But if you need a little more support and interaction with women who have also dealt with antepartum depression, a support group might be the best thing for you. You will meet women who have overcome antepartum depression. And, you will meet those who are currently going through it. A strong support system is a must.

Loved Ones. The fact is that they love you and want to help you. Talk to them about how you’re feeling. Most likely, they will be more than willing to help you work through these difficult emotions. Also, once they know how you feel, they won’t feel alienated or alarmed at your potential reactions or emotions.

Therapist. If you feel you need more professional help than local or internet support groups, a professional therapist can help you sort out these new emotions you are feeling. A therapist can help you determine which emotions are from the surge of hormones and which are a result of your normal thought process. Once that is determined, he or she can begin to help you emotionally heal from depression and those feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

Doctor. There are some medications available that are safe for expectant mothers who are suffering from antepartum depression. If you find that therapy isn’t working for you as well as you had hoped, a mix of anti-depressant medicine and specialized emotional therapy might be the right combination. Talk to you doctor about your options.

Depression isn’t an easy experience to deal with–especially when you are expecting. There are ways to improve your mood and your outlook on life. Your loved ones want to help you get through this rough, emotional time. With help and effort, your depression will eventually fade, and you will once again return to your normal emotional state.