Postnatal Depression (PND) is a type of depression that many parents experience after having a baby. It is very common, effecting more than 1 in every 10 women within a year of giving birth. It is most commonly diagnosed between 4-6 months of giving birth. It can also effect fathers and partners, in fact, men are 50% more likely to suffer some form of PND if their partner has it too.
The ‘Baby Blues’ are more commonly discussed, and almost expected in the first few weeks of having a baby, but if it continues after this, it is likely to be depression, and something to discuss further.
The cause of PND is not clear. Often lack of sleep, high expectations and busy schedules have an impact. Anyone can suffer from PND, but if someone has had episodes of mental health problems earlier in life, they are more likely to suffer with depression after having a baby.
Another common factor is lack of support, having a baby is very overwhelming, and if you have to do it alone, or with little help/support from family or friends it has even more of an impact on mental health. It takes time to adapt to being a new parent, and looking after a small baby can be very stressful and exhausting.
Unfortunately, there is a huge stigma around Postnatal Depression, and because of that, many women are afraid/ashamed to admit they are suffering. Postnatal depression has many symptoms, and they can vary from person to person.
Common symptoms are:
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Low mood
- Trouble sleeping at night
- Having problems bonding with their baby
- Withdrawing from social activities or increasing social activity
- Lack of interest in food or over eating.
- Lack of self-confidence and low sex drive.
As well as the above, people with Postnatal Depression can have self-harming thoughts, or thoughts of harming their baby or any other children they may have.
Many women don’t realise that they have Postnatal Depression because it can develop very slowly. It is very important to seek help as soon as possible, if you think you might be depressed, as symptoms of PND could last for many months, or get worse if left untreated. Your mood could have a negative impact on you, your baby and the rest of your family.
With the right support, which can include self-help strategies and therapy, as well as medication, most women make a full recovery.
If you feel that you can relate to the symptoms listed above, or you know someone who may be suffering, encourage them to discuss how they are feeling with their Gp, Health Visitor or family, as they can point them in the direction of someone who can support them, and help them to recover quickly.
There are also lots of websites and forums where people suffering from depression can go to for help, as some people do not find talking to people, or disclosing their feelings very easy. Here is a list of places you can go for self-help tips and support:-
Association for postnatal illness: https://apni.org
MIND : http://www.mind.org.uk/
Birth Trauma Association : Information and support for people who have experienced a traumatic birth. http://www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk
Anxiety UK : https://www.anxiety.org.uk
Dads Matter UK http://www.dadsmatteruk.org
Netmums – Online support forums for Mums and Dads : https://www.netmums.com/support/pre-and-postnatal-depression
Getting to know your Baby www.your-baby.org.uk
PANDAS Pre and postnatal depression advice and support http@//www.pandasfoundation.org.uk
Remember, it’s good to talk! 😊