Postnatal Depression

This is a fairly common condition which affects women who have just given birth. It is a form of depression which develops in the first month after birth which causes a range of physical and psychological symptoms.

Is it the same as 'baby blues?'

No. Many people confuse the two. They assume that they are one and the same but they are two separate conditions.

Baby blues are not uncommon after giving birth. If you stop to think about it, your body has undergone some major changes during the last 9 months so is it any wonder that this occurs.

Many women feel weepy and low after giving birth which can last for several days. They are mainly due to hormonal changes in your body but are also caused by emotional changes as well.

Let's face it: you are on an emotional roller coaster at this time so it is understandable that you feel cranky or get the urge to burst into tears without warning. Plus you are now faced with the responsibility of looking after a baby which can be overwhelming.

And then there is the anticlimax after the build up to giving birth.

Baby blues usually disappears after a few days but postnatal depression lasts for much longer.

Symptoms of postnatal depression

How do you know if you have post natal depression? The signs to look for are:

  • Anxiety
  • Weepy
  • Depressed
  • Feeling low all the time
  • Exhaustion
  • Miserable
  • Feeling hopeless as a mother
  • Loneliness
  • Trapped

Many new mums experience at least one of these symptoms such as a tendency to weepiness which is also a feature of the baby blues. But if you have most if not all of these symptoms which have lasted for longer than a month then you have postnatal depression.

Not every new mum gets postnatal depression or PND for short. So, why do some women get this and others do not?

That is not an easy question to answer. Every woman is different and reacts to different things in various ways. Hormones play a part as does the way your brain is wired to deal with stress and anxiety.

If you have experienced a premature birth, are prone to depression, have financial or other worries, are isolated or are unable to breastfed then these are all triggers for PND.

Treatment for postnatal depression

Unlike baby blues postnatal depression does not go away on its own. If you have been diagnosed with this then you will require some form of treatment.

Treatment options include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Counselling

Plus there are a few things you can do which will further help such as ensuring that you get enough sleep (not easy with a new baby we know!); eat a healthy diet and take exercise.

If you live on your own or feel isolated then it can help to talk to other new mums in this situation. Talk to others via online forums or see if there is a support group in your area.

Ask your family and friends for some support as well.