Postnatal Depression (PND) is also known as Postpartum depression (PPD), and is a type of depression that affects some women after having a baby. Typically, it develops within four to six weeks after giving birth, but can sometimes take several months to appear. Usually, there is no clear reason for the depression. The woman may experience fatigue, sadness, reduced libido, episodes of crying, irritability, anxiety, and irregular sleeping patterns.
Experts are aware of some risk factors linked to post natal depression. However, nobody is completely sure what causes it. Doctors say that PND is effectively treatable, either with support groups and counselling, or such help combined with medication.
There is absolutely no link between postnatal depression and not loving your baby. Postnatal depression is a clinical illness and not a character weakness. It is important that people with signs and symptoms see their doctor and visit with a psychologist for counselling as soon as possible.
What are the signs and symptoms of PND – PostNatal Depression?
Postnatal Depression can affect mothers in several different ways. Below are some common signs and symptoms:
- A feeling of being overwhelmed
- A feeling of being trapped
- A feeling that it is impossible to cope
- A low mood that lasts for longer than a week
- A sensation of being rejected
- Crying a lot
- Feeling guilty
- Frequent irritability
- Headaches, stomachaches, blurred vision – signs of tension
- Lack of appetite
- Loss of libido
- Panic attacks
- Persistent fatigue
- Problems concentrating or focusing on things
- Reduced motivation
- Sleeping problems
- The mother lacks interest in herself
- A feeling of inadequacy
- Unexplained lack of interest in the new baby
- Lack of desire to meet up or stay in touch with friends
- Scary thoughts – some mothers may have thoughts about harming their child. Experts say this happens in about half of all patients with postnatal depression. The mother may also think about ending her life or harming herself. The mother and/or baby are very rarely harmed. However, having these thoughts are frightening and distressing.
Postnatal depression has nothing to do with baby blues, which affects many women for a few days after giving birth. If the woman’s ability to go about her day-to-day life is significantly undermined and she continues to decline in her functioning, then it is more likely she has postnatal depression.
For several possible reasons, a significant proportion of mothers with postnatal depression do not tell people how they feel. Partners, family and friends who are able to pick up on the signs of postnatal depression at an early stage should encourage her to get medical and psychological assistance as soon as possible.