What is postnatal depression?
Postnatal depression (PND) is a type of depression some women and men experience after they have had a baby. It usually develops in the first four to six weeks after childbirth, although in some cases it may not develop for several months. There can be no reason for the depression which affects about 1 in 10 mothers and 1 in 25 men. Unfortunately, many men may be misdiagnosed and some are not coming forward so statistics may be underestimated.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of PND usually include one or more of the following:
- low mood for long periods of time (a week or more)
- feeling irritable for a lot of the time
- panic attacks or feeling trapped in your life
- difficulty concentrating
- lack of motivation
- lack of interest in yourself and your new baby
- feeling lonely
- feeling guilty, rejected or inadequate
- feeling overwhelmed
- feeling unable to cope
- difficulty sleeping and feeling constantly tired
- physical signs of tension, such as headaches, stomach pains or blurred vision
- lack of appetite
- reduced sex drive
Many women and some men experience some of these symptoms after childbirth so it may mean you do not have PND. But the main thing to remember is if in doubt seek advice from your GP. Or reach out for help to family, friends, midwife, health visitor and your partner.
Many women and men and their families and partners fail to recognise they have PND which is why it is so important to raise awareness of the symptoms before birth. Keeping yourself informed is not overkill but beneficial to you and your child. Being aware of your own mental health is so important at any stage of your life, so never be put off by what others may say or think. Always ask for help it shows how courageous you are!
Everyday life is affected by PND but don't give up you are not alone. Some women and men feel unable to look after their baby and/ or too anxious to leave the house or keep in touch with friends. Some may also get thoughts of harming their baby or themselves, this is common but doesn't mean you will act on your feelings, nor does it mean you are a bad parent. However, it is vital you receive help and support from your GP, specialist and/or support group of which there are many. ( see below) Treatment will benefit you, your partner and your child. Treatment will help you cope day to day with PND and as many have before you, know that you will come through this.
A rare and severe form of depression called postnatal psychosis can develop after childbirth.
- Symptoms of severe depression
- May also have Delusions (believing things that are untrue),
- Hallucinations (seeing things that are not there, or hearing voices)
- Irrational or suicidal thoughts.
- It is thought to be triggered by chemical and hormonal changes in the body that occur after birth.
- It is vital that they see their GP as soon as possible, because their health and the health of their baby may be at risk.
What is the Baby blues?
- A mild type of depression that occurs after childbirth
- Usually occurs around the 3rd to the 10th day after giving birth.
- It can last from a few hours to a few days.
- You may feel tearful and irritable, but no medical treatment is needed.
- It is experienced by more than half of all mothers in the western world.
Seeking further help and support
GP, midwife, health visitor, partner, family and friends for support.
For support during/after treatment please check out:
For Mums: #PNDhour every Wednesday 8 pm GMT on Twitter along with #PNDCHAT 24/7
For further information on PND