Post Natal Depression

Many women feel gloomy after the birth of their baby.  Whilst this is nothing unusual, given the hormonal roller-coaster that their bodies have just undergone, for about one new mums in seven, it can become more serious. 

Post-Natal Depression (PND) is more common than people realise, but with the right amount of awareness it can be recognised and dealt with.  Rates of PND are highest in teenage mums, as well as Type-A personalities, those people who are extremely goal-oriented and driven prior to becoming mothers.  Others more at risk of developing PND are those who have a history of depression, mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, previous history of PND, and those who experienced depression or anxiety during pregnancy.

There really isn’t anything to be scared of with a diagnosis of PND.  Whilst the causes are not clear, it is thought to be the result of so many factors colliding, rather than a single root cause.  These include the huge emotional and physical stress of looking after a newborn baby, hormonal changes occurring after birth, sensitivity to these hormones, and changes in one’s social environment such as worries about finance, less social support, and relationship changes.

Up to three months after childbirth women with PND can show signs of low moods, feelings of inability to cope, and sleeping troubles (apart from those baby-induced breaks).  Other symptoms incude anxiety, panic attacks, extreme tiredness, aches and pains, emotional break-outs over trivial matters, memory loss or concentration loss, crying and just not being able to stop, and loss of interest in the baby or anything around.

It is important that if these symptoms persist, they are receognised by mums, partners, family and friends so that professional advice can be found.  Health visitors, GPs and other professionals are the first line of treatment, and talking to them can often help.  They can recommend techniques to help and cope, and they are able to refer for further treatment.  Counselling, and anti-depressants that are suitable even for mums for breastfeed can be considered by such professionals.

A lot of self-help can also be used if mums find themselves in this situation.  Speaking to your partner, family and friends, and health visitor can all achieve wonderful results.  Anyone of these can volunteer to check in with you once in a while to give some added support through this otherwise tough time.  An extra pair of hands to take care of the housework, make you a cup of tea, let you put your feet up or snooze for an hour can provide wonderful respite.  Engaging domestic help is also an option, even if just for one day.  A cleaner can make your home feel cheerful again, and a night nurse can take care of the feeds just for one night so you can catch up on a beautiful’s nights sleep.  Breaking issues down to the size they really are means they can dealt with by mum simply, and especially given the support of her, sometimes-hidden, support network.

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