By Stacey Chia
Although Mrs Tan (not her real name) is now the happy mother of a baby girl, her battle with perinatal depression almost prevented this.
'I actually contemplated suicide,' she said quietly.
But with help from her husband and friends from the Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Support Group at KK Women's and Children's Hospital, she has since recovered from the condition.
The 33-year-old, who gave birth in April, recalled crying every night after returning home from work. She would also experience frequent mood swings and take her anger and frustration out on her husband.
It was not until a visit to Dr Helen Chen, on the advice of her gynaecologist, that she found out why she behaved in such an erratic manner, and was diagnosed with perinatal depression.
'Too many things were happening too soon: The baby came so quickly after we got married, we were busy moving into our new home, and I just couldn't cope with all the changes,' she said.
'It didn't help that, with the pregnancy, I got gestational diabetes.'
Gestational diabetes is any degree of glucose intolerance or diabetes that is diagnosed for the first time when a woman is pregnant.
While Mrs Tan is one of the lucky ones who got over her illness, some like Yvonne (not her real name), 38, are still trying to fight depression.
For Yvonne, depression wasn't something new. She has had a history of it. And that made it harder for her during her pregnancy as some of the medication she took to control her depression had to be stopped.
To cope in her new circumstance, she had to rely largely on her own willpower and the support of her husband and a good friend.
'When things got too tough, I would think of how much I had to go through to conceive again after an earlier miscarriage,'she said.
Unlike most pregnant women, it took a while for her to be happy about her pregnancy.
She said that the miscarriage had made her afraid and anxious. She feared losing the baby. But she was also worried about whether she would be capable of raising a child and even considered having an abortion.
'Thoughts of not wanting to keep the baby crossed my mind, and I couldn't really control my emotions,' she said.
She is glad now that she didn't go through with that.
'My son is like my lucky star,' she said. 'When he knows I'm upset, he will laugh, and when I sing a song, he will clap along. Just watching him, how can I stay down?'
This article was first published in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times on June 18, 2008.