• Kristina Cherep

Knowing The Difference Between Mental Illness Symptoms & Pregnancy Symptoms

Updated: Apr 18

Surprisingly hormonal surges and anxiety attacks or depression episodes feel very similar! In a way, I guess my past anxiety attacks and depression episodes have prepared me for these mood swings that come with hormonal changes. However, at the beginning of my pregnancy I was not aware how similar they were until my therapist talked to me about it! I walked in one day to therapy worried that I was falling into another mental illness phase. I was nervous that it was going to eventually lead to another hospitalization because the feelings I was having felt way too familiar.

I began having sudden urges to cry for rational and irrational reasons. Sometimes I just wanted to go in the shower and cry it out. Sometimes I just wanted to lay in bed and cry it out. I felt like I had no control over these emotions and I began wondering why I was feeling this way. Was I stepping into a depressed funk? Do I have depressed thoughts that are going to lead me to having suicidal thoughts again? I started to have flashbacks of some of my dark past memories. I began having meltdowns when I was in an anxious moment or when I couldn’t figure something out. I felt more agitated for the simplest of things.

Turns out all of these are pretty normal for pregnant people! If these moments were much more than moments, such as lasting days or weeks then that would be a different story. My therapist told me then that would be a sign of my mental health going south or me developing prenatal depression. However, they were just moments and after sometime I was able to move on with my days.

It was refreshing I guess in a way to know that I was just experiencing normal pregnancy symptoms. However, it was kind of frustrating because before getting pregnant I had been in such a good place that I hadn’t experienced these feelings in a long time. They came back not because my mental health was slacking, but because I was pregnant! I don’t know why I’m typing this in past tense because I am still experiencing these feelings that come with a normal pregnancy!

The only part that wasn’t necessarily normal for pregnancy was when I was experiencing flashbacks. My therapist said that was more of PTSD happening because the feelings were so similar to the times I had before my hospitalization. Thankfully, the flashbacks only lasted a few days. If you’ve ever experienced PTSD flashbacks, they are no fun and can be quite terrifying! Once I learned that what I was experiencing and feeling wasn’t leading me to another hospitalization or dark phase, it was easier to cope with. Not necessarily easier to deal with in those moments, but definitely helpful to get out of those moments quicker.

All I’m saying is pregnancy symptoms are much more than just physical symptoms. Hormones are exhausting and can make you feel like you’re having mental illness symptoms. Sometimes it is just normal pregnancy symptoms or sometimes it may be your mental health getting worse. I wish I had known this before which is why I am writing this for you! However, it’s important to talk with your doctor or a therapist about what you’re feeling for them to decide!

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