Depression occurring after a birth is known as Post Natal Depression, or PND. It occurs much more frequently than most people realise, and while it is commonly associated with post-natal mothers, it can also affect men.
Why does it happen?
There is no way of knowing which woman will be affected by Post Natal Depression and which will not. Some women may be more at risk than others and these include;
Those who have experienced a mental health problem in the past, including previous incidences of depression.
Those who experienced symptoms of depression during pregnancy.
Those who have other major worries such as money troubles.
Those with a family history of PND.
Those with relationship problems.
Those who have little or no family support.
Signs of Post Natal Depression
Someone with post natal depression may have some or all of the following symptoms; in order to have a proper diagnosis, it is essential that you talk to a health professional such as your doctor or health visitor. Signs of PND may develop in the weeks or months after birth but it can take longer for symptoms to develop so bear this in mind if you feel unwell. Some of these symptoms may be normal after having a baby, when lack of sleep and emotional changes can make you feel overwhelmed. If you aren?t sure, seek advice from your doctor.
Feeling unable to cope
Feeling weepy or tearful frequently
Lack of interest in things that would usually have interested you
Poor concentration, memory and focus
Feelings of rejection, guilt, inadequacy
Feeling irritable or moody
Thoughts of self-harm or harming your baby
Feeling unable to let the baby out of your sight, feeling over anxious and obsessive
What to Do?
The key is to speak to your doctor or other health care professional as soon as you begin to think that you may be suffering from PND. Be honest about your feelings, there is an increased awareness of Post Natal Depression nowadays and there is a lot of help available. If you are pregnant and concerned about PND, or you think you may be at risk, it isn?t too early to mention your concerns. Your doctor can treat you in advance and simply talking about your fear of PND may reduce the chance of you developing the condition.
Help may come in the form of talking therapy such as CBT, or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and this might be accompanied by medication as well. It is important you talk through any course of treatment with your doctor so that you are happy about the help you are getting and more likely to stick with it and succeed. It is hard to estimate how long PND will last, but the earlier you seek help, the better your chances are of beating the illness quickly and recovering faster. That said, it is important to give yourself time, make use of any support network you have and try not to pressurise yourself into anything before you are ready. Be honest about the condition ? you may find that people are more understanding than you expect.
Some further information on postnatal depression can be read at the Rotunda website
The HSE also have a guide entitled: “Postnatal Depression- A guide for mothers, family and friends?