Postnatal depression (PND) is a type of depression some women experience after they have had a baby. It usually develops in the first four to six weeks after childbirth, although in some cases it may not develop for several months. According to the HSE it can affect about one in 10 mothers. However I feel the figures are probably much higher than this, as many women who experience mild postnatal depression may not realise they have it and put their bad moods down to lifestyle changes and the challenges of adjusting to a new baby.
So what are the main symptoms?
- low mood for long periods of time ( 2 weeks or more)
- feeling irritable
- panic attacks or feeling trapped in your life
- difficulty concentrating
- lack of motivation
- lack of interest in yourself and your new baby
- feeling lonely
- feeling guilty, rejected or inadequate
- feeling overwhelmed
- feeling unable to cope
- difficulty sleeping and feeling constantly tired
- physical signs of tension, such as headaches, stomach pains or blurred vision
- lack of appetite
- reduced sex drive
Postnatal depression can interfere with your day-to-day life. Some women feel unable to look after their baby, or feel too anxious to leave the house or keep in touch with friends. Many mothers do not recognise that they have depression, and do not talk to family and friends about how they are really feeling - mainly due to those horrible feelings of guilt or shame
What can cause post-natal depression or make it worse?
- depression during the pregnancy
- mental health problems in the past, such as depression or childhood trauma
- worry and anxiety about the responsibility of having a new baby; your own personality may come into play being an anxious person or a perfectionist
- a difficult delivery/Birth trauma or perceived trauma
- lack of a support network and feeling like you have no one to turn to
- relationship worries; feeling disconnected and a lack of acknowledgement from your partner
- feeling unheard and not understood
- financial concerns
- having no close family or friends around you
- physical health problems following the birth, such as anaemia or urinary incontinence or pain
What do you need to do to feel better?
First of all a very important step is to accept that there is something going on for you that doesn't feel right. Those feelings your are experiencing of guilt, shame, anxiety, loneliness, wanting to run away from it all, feeling less of a mother, disconnected from your baby are all so normal when you experience post-natal depression. Once you seek professional help from a counsellor and work through these feelings you can begin to feel well and family life can once again be restored. It is very important to note that postnatal depression is a progressive illness and may get worse if help is not sought. With early professional intervention and education a woman can re-engage with her baby and family in a very healthy way and feel positive as she moves forward in her life.
If this blog post has felt familiar to you and you can relate to it - perhaps you are experiencing postnatal depression at present or have in the past and never sought help for it - please do not let fear hold you back, reach out to me for help. You can contact me in confidence on 087-4447733 or firstname.lastname@example.org