Post Natal depression is a type of depression that can develop in some women (and occasionally men) after childbirth. It can affect up to one in ten women, and in most cases, occurs within the first four weeks of childbirth, although some cases may manifest up to a year after childbirth. The exact causes of post natal depression are not known. In women, it could be attributed to the hormonal changes that occur after childbirth, combined with the heightened emotional and stress levels experienced during pregnancy and just after.
Do I suffer from post natal depression?
The symptoms of Post Natal depression can be very similar to those seen in general depression. These can include low moods, a lack of energy and motivation, a loss of interest in everything around you, low self-esteem and general lethargy. In post natal depression, these are likely to occur everyday for a period of a few weeks or even months.
One of the difficulties with post natal depression, is a failure for women and the friends and family around them to recognise that they may have it in the first place. Quite often, people will just assume it is the ‘baby blues’ which most women experience after the birth of a child. However, if the symptoms mentioned above persist and seem to be getting worse, it is highly advisable to seek some professional help.
In the past, people used to worry that they would not be taken seriously, or even that their baby would be taken away from them if they admitted that they were suffering from post natal depression. It must be emphasised that this is NOT the case! With one in ten mothers affected to some degree or another, it is a widely known issue both in medical and professional circles as well as to the general public.
The first step to recovery
If you believe that you may be experiencing post natal depression, then you should visit your GP as soon as possible. They will then be able to make a more comprehensive diagnosis. The earlier this is done, the better, as it makes treatment more effective which in turn leads to life becoming simpler once more!
During your appointment, your GP can then decide upon what help is best suited to you. This might range from self help therapy to seeing a counsellor, and in the extremely small minority of cases, help from mental health services. In addition to the help suggested, they may also have information on local support groups in the area, as well as other resources.
Post natal depression can disappear by itself within six months, but following the advice given will lead to a better quality of life in those all important first few months with the baby and/or partner. It is also important, no matter how hard it is, to inform those around you that you have post natal depression so that they also understand what is going on. The better the support network, the better you will feel.
The power of talking
The advice given to most women experiencing post natal depression will be similar, and is based upon self help therapy and talking treatments. Talking treatments normally take the form of sessions with a counsellor, and can be extremely helpful once the initial inhibitions about talking with a stranger are got over. The power of talking issues, thoughts and problems through with someone can not be underestimated.
In terms of self help, the suggestions are very much the same as for when treating general depression. These include eating regularly and healthily, getting some exercise, being realistic with goal setting or daily tasks, and trying to have a positive frame of mind wherever possible.
If you have just had a baby, and believe that you may be suffering from post natal depression, it is important to remember that you are not the first person that it has happened to, and you will certainly not be the last. There is no need to suffer in silence, as there is assistance available in a variety of forms. With a combination of counselling and a good support network of family and friends, you will soon start to feel better and be better adjusted to life with your new child.
I am a counsellor based in london. I offer counselling in Waterloo SE1, Kennington SE11 and central London. Feel free to send me an enquiry. I always replay via email within 24 hours.