Postnatal depression (PND) affects 10% to 15% of women after giving birth. PND can be mistaken for ‘baby blues’, (or vice versa), which are very common affecting 50% of women after childbirth, but only last for a few days and are far less serious.
What is postnatal depression?
Postnatal depression is a type of clinical depression and carries similar traits. In around a third of women who suffer from PND, symptoms actually begin during pregnancy. For others symptoms can start anytime from a couple of weeks after the baby is born.
The length of the depression can depend on the severity, help and support sought and treatment undertaken.
Symptoms of PND
- Low mood and unexplained tearfulness, especially at certain times of the day
- Extreme tiredness/exhaustion (and inability to actually sleep)
- Loss of appetite (or over-eating)
- Loss of libido
- Irritable and/or anxious
- Loss of interest in things
- Inability to look forward to anything
- Feelings of guilt, probably surrounding the new baby
- Isolating oneself from others, friends and family etc
- Thoughts of harming oneself or the baby or suicide
What causes PND?
- Usually PND occurs within the first four weeks of the birth of a child.
- It is not clear as to why PND affects some women after childbirth and not others. It could be the different reactions to the massive change in the mother’s life that having a baby brings. Another theory is that it is caused by the huge change in hormones that comes with pregnancy and childbirth, affecting some women more than others.
- What is known is that there are certain factors that can increase chances of getting PND;
- If the mother had depression or PND before, or if she suffered with it during pregnancy
- If there is a history of depression or PND in the family
- If the mother is not getting much help and support from loved ones or having a difficult time with her partner
- If the family has financial worries
- If the pregnancy and/or birth was a difficult one.
- If the mother has had anything significant happen in her life recently, such as death of a family member or the loss of a job
- If there are feeding difficulties or illness with the newborn child.
Treatment, as with depression, depends on the severity of the PND. Group discussions and support groups are helpful as are one to one discussions with a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. Medication is sometimes useful. It is a condition that is best treated sooner rather than later.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know may require help and advice please call the Via Clinic on 01372 363939