It is thought that about one in ten mothers suffer from Postnatal Depression. It is unknown as to the exact cause but it could be the extreme hormone changes that the body goes through or just the stress of looking after a newborn. Women who have suffered from depression in the past may be at a higher risk of getting Postnatal Depression but just because you have suffered with it in the past doesn’t mean it is certain that you will get it after giving birth.
Postnatal Depression can sometimes be confused with the ‘Baby Blues’ which is actually very common in new mothers for the first couple of weeks after childbirth. Normal symptoms of Baby Blues can be anything from feeling down, to being irritable and emotional. These symptoms normally disappear in a couple of weeks. This is considered relatively normal and is not a cause for concern.
Postnatal Depression usually starts about a month after birth but can happen anywhere to a year after childbirth. It is considered an illness and rarely goes away by itself. Symptoms vary from person to person but signs to look out for include feelings of anxiety and guilt, feelings of inadequacy. There may be more physical signs such as lack of sleep, lack of appetite, and crying frequently. In very severe cases a mother may consider harming her baby or herself. As a new mother, if you notice these signs they are definitely something that shouldn’t be ignored.
Getting help for Postnatal Depression can come in many forms. The first is to talk to friends and family members as they are there to offer you support. The next step is to talk to your GP. They can discuss with you the best way of dealing with depression and it is important to remember that you are not suffering with these feelings because you are weak. Depression is an illness regardless of what form it comes in. Your GP can help you decide whether antidepressants are the best way to go or if there are other options that will suit you better.
A lot of mothers suffering from this illness avoid discussing it with other mums because they look around and think they’re the only ones who feel like this. It creates a feeling of isolation and loneliness. You are not alone and talking to other people about how you feel will help relieve some of those feelings. If you do not feel comfortable discussing it with friends and family, you can visit online forums or contact your local health advisor. There are also a number of support groups who offer telephone advice or online support. A quick Google search should reveal groups in your area.
Postnatal Depression is treatable, much like any other form of depression. The first step as with anything is admitting there’s a problem. The worst thing you can do is bottle those feelings up. Find strength in your family and accept the support and help around you.