POST NATAL DEPRESSION (PND)
Post natal depression is a type of depression experienced by some women after having a baby. It usually develops in the first 4 to 6 weeks after childbirth, although sometimes it can develop even after several months.
– Depressed – Tired – Sleepless
– Irritable – Appetite changes – Hopeless
– Unable to enjoy anything – Negative and guilty thoughts – Loss of interest in sex
– Anxious – Avoid other people – Thoughts of suicide
– Thoughts of death – Panic attacks – Wanting to cry
– Obsessive fears about baby’s health or wellbeing – A sense of inadequacy
– Difficulty in concentrating or making decisions – Feeling unable to cope
-Physical symptoms: headache, stomach pains, blurred vision, difficulty with breathing
– Being hostile or indifferent to your baby, husband or partner
POSTNATAL DEPRESSION AND “BABY BLUES”
New mothers usually experience “baby blues” 2 to 4 days after the birth. You may feel very emotional and burst into tears easily for no apparent reason, or for reasons that may seem trivial for other people. You may find it difficult to sleep and you may lose your appetite. You may also feel anxious, sad, guilty, and afraid that you are not up to being a mother. It is entirely normal to feel that way. Doctors suggest that the “baby blues” may be a result of changes in hormone levels that happen after the birth, or it can be brought on by the experience of being in hospital. Having “baby blues” is distressing, but it is important to know that it doesn’t last long – usually only a few days. However if the depression goes on for longer, or gets worse, it may be turning into post natal depression.
WHAT CAUSES PND?
Motherhood is a rite of passage and has a lot of shocks in store. There are new and daunting skills to learn; you are suddenly responsible 24/7 for a helpless human being whose only communication is crying; suddenly your freedom to come and go as you please has disappeared; and when you go out with the baby – your pram or buggy makes your route difficult and filled with obstacle-courses; often you are finding yourself alone at home with no adults to talk to. Becoming a mother can be a huge change of role. Even if the baby is the second or third one, there are still a lot of adjustments to make, because each new baby is changing the family and it will take some getting used to.
MOTHERS DO NOT ENJOY HIGH STATUS IN THE WEST AND THERE ARE HARDLY ANY RITUALS TO HONOUR THEM!
There are also other stresses to cope with. There may be illness or death in the family, moving house, changing job, money problems, difficult labour, changes to your body, hormonal upheaval, diet, childhood experiences, to count only a few.
WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE MYSELF FEEL BETTER?
REMEMBER YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
- Find somebody to talk to. It is important to feel understood and supported. A sympathetic listener can bring enormous relief. It can be your health visitor, a counsellor, a volunteer from a self-help organisation, GP.
- Meet other parents. It can be very reassuring to find that all new parents share the same anxieties and frustrations. Meeting others in the same position as you will give you a chance to share skills and experiences, to realise you are not alone and can get you some emotional and practical support.
- Take care of yourself. Accept offers of help from friends and relatives, eat, don’t try to do too much around the house, sleep whenever possible, learn to relax.
- Use complementary therapies (cranial osteopathy, herbal remedies, homeopathy, massage, reflexology, aromatherapy, reiki, zero balancing).
WHAT ABOUT FATHERS?
Fathers may also become depressed. The causes include the pressures of fatherhood, increased responsibility, the expense of having children and the changes in the life-style and in a relationship, lack of sleep and increased workload at home.
- The Association for Post Natal Illness, Tel. 020 73860868, www.apni.org
- British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP), Tel. 0161 705 4304, www.babcp.com
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), Tel. 01455 883 300, www.bacp.co.uk
- Fatherhood Institute, www.fatherhoodinstitute.org
- Home-Start, Freephone 0800 068 63 68, Tel. 0116 233 9955, www.home-start.org.uk
- NCT, helpline 0300 330 0700, www.nct.org.uk
- Perinatal Illness UK, PO BOX 49769, London WC1H 9WH, www.pni-uk.com
- UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), Tel. 020 7014 9955, www.psychotherapy.org.uk