POST NATAL DEPRESSION & HOW IT REALLY AFFECTS WOMEN
It’s a common problem, affecting more than 1 in every 10 women within a year of giving birth. It can also affect fathers and partners.
It’s important to seek help as soon as possible if you think you might be depressed, as your symptoms could last months or get worse and have a significant impact on you, your baby and your family.
With the right support, which can include self-help strategies and therapy, most women make a full recovery.
RETURNING from hospital with her 7lb bundle of joy, mum Emma Stevenson should have been on cloud nine.
Instead, she sat on her bed crying to husband Morgan: “I just don’t love her.”
After a difficult birth, Emma and baby Amelie had to remain in hospital for a week.
When they arrived home, Emma spiralled into depression.
She says: “I had bouts when I was at university but it wasn’t as serious.
“My mum Jenny, 62, suffered with postnatal Depression when I was born, and when she had my sister Kate, she had post- natal psychosis.
“Mum has always made it clear to us that we could go to her for help and not to suffer in silence.
“Still, I never expected it to happen to me. Amelie was a planned baby and Morgan and I were so excited. We’d been married for three years and were ready to become a family.
“I had a great pregnancy. The depression came out of the blue.”
Symptoms of postnatal depression
Many women feel a bit down, tearful or anxious in the first week after giving birth. This is often called the “Baby Blues” and is so common that it’s considered normal. The “baby blues” don’t last for more than two weeks after giving birth.
If your symptoms last longer or start later, you could have postnatal depression. Postnatal depression can start any time in the first year after giving birth.
Signs that you or someone you know might be depressed include:
- a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
- lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world
- lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
- trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
- difficulty bonding with your baby
- withdrawing from contact with other people
- problems concentrating and making decisions
- frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby
Many women don’t realise they have postnatal depression, because it can develop gradually.
Treatments for postnatal depression
Postnatal depression can be lonely, distressing and frightening, but support and effective treatments are available.
- self-help – things you can try yourself include:talking to your family and friends about your feelings and what they can do to help; making time for yourself to do things you enjoy; resting whenever you get the chance and getting as much sleep as you can at night; excersising regularly, eating a healthy diet, Talking with a Loving Partner helps too
- psychological therapy – your Doctor may be able to recommend a self-help course, or may refer you for a course of therapy, such as Cognitive Behavorial Therapy (CBT)
- AntiDeppressants– these may be recommended if your depression is more severe or other treatments haven’t helped; your doctor can prescribe a medicine that’s safe to take while breastfeeding