Postnatal Depression affects around 1 in 7 new mums, so it is very common and is nothing to be ashamed of, it doesn’t make you a bad mum and you CAN get better.
PND is often confused with the baby blues which the vast majority of new mums will experience from around day 3-5 post birth. Baby blues symptoms include; feeling tearful, emotional and tired. It does not generally require treatment and passes within 2 weeks, during this time it’s important to get as much sleep as possible and to look after yourself. If symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks then speak to your GP or Health Visitor, as this could be an indicator of PND.
What most people don’t realise is that PND can develop any time within the first year after giving birth. So staying aware of your emotions and general mood is important.
The NHS lists the following as possible symptoms of PND:
- loss of interest in the baby
- feelings of hopelessness
- not being able to stop crying
- feelings of not being able to cope
- not being able to enjoy anything
- memory loss or being unable to concentrate
- excessive anxiety about the baby
Other signs of postnatal depression may also include:
- panic attacks
- extreme tiredness
- aches and pains
- feeling generally unwell
- loss of appetite
It can be really difficult to accept that you may have PND and feeling like you’ll be seen as a bad mum, or having your baby taken away are really common. Only in rare cases is a baby taken away, health care professionals are there to help you be the best mum you can be and help your family.
Common treatments for postnatal depression are; Anti-Depressants, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and counselling. Some mums will require inpatient treatment and there are a number of Mother and Baby units across the UK where you can receive psychiatric care and keep your baby with you.
Other things than can help day to day with PND are;
- Healthy Eating
- Peer Support
Being able to talk to others who have been through PND can really help you not feel alone and give you hope that recovery is possible. There are peer support groups across the UK, your health visitor or GP may be able to recommend on in your area.
There is an online peer support network run by me (Rosey) via Twitter @PNDandMe. Through which I run a weekly tweet chat with the hashtag #PNDHour, every Wednesday between 8-9pm. We are an ever growing community of those who are recovered, those still in the thick of postnatal mental illness and health care professionals who want to help. #PNDHour is a safe, non-judgemental community who want to help connect, support and empower those with mental illness.
The most important message I could tell a mum who may be suffering with a mental illness is; you are not alone. Recovery is possible with the right help and support so it is crucial that when you are struggling that you speak to someone as soon as you can.
While I’ve focused on Postnatal Depression, it’s important to recognise the other Perinatal Mental Illnesses, of which I’ve attached links to useful sites below.
Antenatal Depression – https://www.nct.org.uk/pregnancy/antenatal-depression
OCD – www.maternalocd.org
Postpartum Psychosis – www.app-network.org
PTSD/Birth Trauma – http://www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk/
Postnatal Depression in fathers – https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/postnatal-depression-dads