Postnatal depression, also known as PND and postpartum depression, is a slide into depression following the birth of a child, and affects about 12,000 mothers each year in Ireland. It may start off as the baby blues, gets worse or continues for more than two weeks or it may begin to appear up to several months after giving birth. You can have postnatal depression any time in the first year after giving birth. It is advisable for any woman experiencing prolonged low mood after birth to seek professional help.
It can be very confusing for new parents to figure out if what they are feeling is normal because of the major changes to their sleep and lives or is it more serious, if you are anyway concerned about how you are feeling or how a loved one is feeling please contact Nurture, we are here to help. Depression is an illness and is treatable, ignoring it will not help you or make it go away so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Our video explains more about postnatal depression for one lady and about how Nurture can help you if you feel you may be suffering from it.
PND is a multi factorial condition with biological, psychological and social factors all playing some part. A different combination of factors is probably responsible for each woman’s unique experience of PND.
It is important to know the risk factors for postnatal depression. Research shows that all of the things listed below put you at a higher risk for developing these illnesses. If you have any of these factors, you should discuss them with your medical provider so that you can plan ahead for care should you need it.
- Previous emotional traumas
- A personal or family history of depression, anxiety, or postpartum depression
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD or PMS)
- Inadequate support in caring for the baby
- Financial stress
- Relationship stress
- Complications in pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding
- A major recent life event: loss, house move, job loss
- Mothers of multiples
- Mothers whose infants are in Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU)
- Mothers who have gone through infertility treatments
- Women with a thyroid imbalance
- Women with any form of diabetes (type 1, type 2 or gestational)
It is very important for women to learn to recognise the signs and symptoms of PND so that they can ask for help as early as possible. The severity of PND depends on the number of symptoms, their intensity and the extent to which they interfere with normal functioning. PND tends to be characterized by a combination of the following symptoms. The combination and severity of symptoms will be different for every woman, resulting in many different appearances of PND.
- Loss or increase of appetite
- Inability to sleep or excessive sleeping or fatigue and not wanting to get up and face the day
- Tearfulness or feel like you want to cry but can’t
- Feeling numb
- Withdrawing from family and friends and other social occasions
- Lack of concentration or memory difficulties
- Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
- Loss of interest, joy or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
- Possible thoughts of harming yourself
- Feelings of being overwhelmed, out of control, unable to cope
- Irritability or aggressive behaviour
- Loss of libido
- Loss of confidence and self-esteem and feeling inadequate
- Alienation and lack of interest towards the baby andor no feeling of a bond with your baby. It is important to note that women with postnatal depression do not have thoughts or plans to hurt their baby, these thoughts or actions are from someone suffering from postpartum psychosis which some people or some media confuse with postnatal depression.
- However it is not uncommon at all for women to feel suicidal and feel your baby and family would be better off without them. If you are feeling this way at all please seek help urgently, it is only your illness making you feel this way and there are people to help stop these terrible feelings and thoughts.
You are not alone and it really is okay to talk about it
PND is not something to be ashamed of, it’s OK to talk about it. It should be seen as one of the many complications of pregnancy and delivery. With early identification/diagnosis, immediate access to PND specific services and accurate information women with PND do recover. If you feel you may be suffering from postnatal depression, know that it is not your fault and you are not to blame. We understand what you are going through and will connect you to people who can help. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms please click here to see how to contact us.
If you are feeling very anxious you may be suffering from Postnatal Anxiety or if you have obsessional thoughts you may be suffering from Postnatal OCD (Obsessional Compulsive Disorder). You can have symptoms from each of these illnesses as they sometimes happen together which is very common as well. Again all these illnesses are temporary with the right professional treatment.
One last but extremely important thing to note: If you are having moments where it seems like you can see or hear things no one else does, if you are feeling paranoid as if others are out to get you, if you are having thoughts or beliefs that you normally would never have, or if you are having thoughts of harming yourself or your child, children and or others it’s vital that you reach out for help immediately. These symptoms require immediate attention as they could be signs of postpartum psychosis and not postnatal depression. If you have these symptoms, your illness has the potential to take over and make you to do things that you wouldn’t normally do. Postpartum psychosis is temporary and treatable with professional help, but it is an emergency and it is essential that you receive immediate help.