Symptoms of Postpartum Depression
What is Postnatal Depression? What is Baby Blues?
What are the signs of Postnatal Depression? What are the signs of Baby Blues?Find out here.
The birth of a baby is usually expected to bring immeasurable joy to a family, and especially to the mother. It could however leave the mother with a lot of sadness and even stress. There is bound to be countless sleepless nights for many weeks on end and a combination of all this can lead to serious struggles.
Many women report feeling overwhelmed and tearful during the first few weeks after delivery and many assume that it will pass. Unfortunately it only passes if it is just baby blues. It could however be postnatal depression or even something worse like postnatal psychosis and these require medical intervention. So how do you know which is which?
You may find yourself feeling sad, teary, and anxious or having a hard time concentrating. It usually coincides with increased breast milk supply so it can be attributed to hormones and such. It should end within a short time (about a week or two) and you will need support and reassurance to get through it.
Also known as PND, it affects about 15% of women during the first few months following delivery. It may start out as baby blues but it is more severe and prolonged. It can affect the relationship that a mother has with her child to a large extent. Its symptoms include anxiety, feeling tearful, sad or guilty yet they can’t identify a specific trigger. Women going through PND could also feel lethargic, lack of enjoyment for life, reduced confidence and self-esteem, feeling overwhelmed and like a failure especially with regard to parenting, difficulty bonding with the baby and withdrawing from people. There could also be poor concentration, altered sleep patterns and a change in appetite.
In some extreme cases the mother might harbour thoughts of harming herself or the baby. It may take a number of months to realize that they are suffering from PND and how serious it is but when it is identified, immediate medical attention is required.
This condition is very rare (affects one in 500 pregnancies) and is also known as puerperal. It is a serious psychiatric disruption and the mother could become ‘out of touch’ with reality. It is worse than PND and needs urgent and specialized treatment.
There are factors that may predispose some women to these mental disturbances. It has nothing to do with culture, age or background though. They are more likely to come with:
- Poor sleep
- A previous history of anxiety, depression or any other mental illness
- Having a baby with any kind of developmental issues
- Minimal or poor social support
- Stressors from daily life such as financial difficulties
- Relationship difficulties
- A baby that proves difficult to settle for whatever reason
- A birth that didn’t fit the expectations of the parents, for instance a baby born with medical intervention yet parents expected a natural birth.
If you fall into any of these categories it is important to let your doctor know in advance. This will allow for time to implement some strategies that can reduce the likelihood of PND. They could suggest arranging for extra support during this time, taking regular breaks from the baby and any other kind of support to ease the load once the baby comes.
You could also consider being part of a support group since being around people who know and understand what you are going through can be helpful and counselling from a certified counsellor. Emotional and practical support from family, friends or even organizations can be helpful too. A doctor can prescribe medication if they find it necessary for your specific case. The sooner you find a suitable approach the better for you, your family and your relationship with your baby.