Postnatal depression is a mental health disorder that some women experience in their first years after giving birth. It is estimated that around 10% to 20% of women experience anxiety and depression during their pregnancy and after having their babies. Fortunately, postnatal depression (PND) is treatable, and those dealing with the disorder get better in time.
In this video, Annie Meier, an NCT member shares about her PND experience and how the disorder affected her and how to overcome it. Other than that, below are key questions asked that can help shed more light on what postnatal depression is and how to overcome the disorder.
How Do I Know If I Have Postnatal Depression?
You can start with the depression screening tool from NHS Choices. The other step is to get in touch with your general health practitioner or call 111.
Do not allow the illness to put you down. You should be proud of yourself for making an effort to seek assistance, which is a sign that you recognize the effects of postnatal depression and want to do your best to get better. It may be the hardest move but well worth the effort.
Is PND Different From Other Forms Of Depression?
Yes, the disparity is pronounced. At times, the level of depression and anxiety may be mild and other times slightly intense and severe in others. The bouts of depression can happen suddenly or come on gradually.
The primary concern is that recognizing the disorder may be very tricky, and this is attributed to your mental state is bound the change in the weeks after having your baby. Moreover, the buzz of new things due to the new bundle of joy will also keep you preoccupied with what’s going on around you.
When Does The Illness Mostly Occur?
Postnatal depression usually comes on within a month and two weeks after having the baby according to psychiatrists. And while the illness is expected to dissipate within a few months, nearly 30% of the women with PND still deal with the disorder a year after giving birth.
What Are Postnatal Depression Symptoms?
The signs and symptoms of postnatal depression include:
- Sleep problems
- Feeling worthless
- Feeling down and teary
- Suicidal thoughts
- Inability to feel happiness
- Unable to concentrate
- Low sex drive
- Problems bonding with your baby
- Finding it difficult to leave the house
Why Does PND Often Go Unreported?
It is estimated that nearly 30% of the new mothers that have PND do not disclose or share about the illness to a health practitioner.
That sad state of affairs is attributed to the difficulty of recognizing the symptoms of postnatal depression more so after the body has undergone a dramatic shift by child conception and birth. The other reasons are the fear that social services may take their baby from them and that some women have of being judged by other people.
Keep in mind the PND is not such a bad thing; it is an illness that you can overcome if you get the right help.
How Can I Tell That I’m At Risk Of Postnatal Depression?
You will know that you are likely to experience postnatal depression if you notice the following risk factors:
- A history of PND within the family
- Undergoing a traumatic childbirth experience such as a stillbirth
- Ongoing mental health issues
- History of physical or mental about as a child or adult
- Undergoing a tough economic or violent social situation
- Lacking proper social support during pregnancy and after giving birth
Seek immediate medical advice and attention if from your general health practitioner or midwife if you think or believe that you are at risk of PND.
Is It Essential To Seek Help For Postnatal Depression?
Absolutely; you should speak to health professionals or the midwife so that you can plan on getting the right support and treatment. Failure to get assistance can result in significant mental health complications that affect your social life robbing you of the chance to build a lasting and meaningful relationship with your baby and partner.
Some of the treatment options worth trying include taking anti-depressants prescribed to you by a qualified health practitioner, counseling, and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). Hospitalization of the mother and baby is highly recommended if the disorder becomes severe or transitions into postpartum psychosis.
What Else Can I Do To Help?
Some of the measures you can take include:
- Establish a support network and try to spend more time with your family and friend or fellow mums to chat and have a laugh.
- Do not turn away any help offered to you even if it is in the form of assistance by your best friend or mother in dusting or cleaning up the house. It could also be your sister offering to walk your newborn around the neighborhood.
- Try to be active. Go for a run or swimming. Exercising is a natural way of overcoming stress, anxiety, and depression thus a means of protecting and nurturing your mental health.
- Register with NCT for the baby massage class or be an active member of the local children’s center.
- Eat healthily and have your meal include plenty of fruits and vegetables. Also, try to avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Always shower and dress up even if the day’s schedule will not see you step outside the house or the furthest you will get is to the bin to throw away the nappies.
- Keep a diary, pen down your moods so that you note how different activities, places, and people make you feel.
- Be mindful of what you do and all that is around you. You can use apps such as headspace that can help you to deal with various challenges of the day.
- Reach out to national specialist organizations or such organizations within your location so that you can have the chance to link up and converse with other women dealing with postnatal depression. Some of the notable services available include counseling and social support groups that may be offline and online, a dedicated telephone helpline, and a buddy service.