New mums suffering from Post Natal depression may feel distressed and even guilty about experiencing such feelings, when they should be happy because of their new baby. While the birth of a new baby is indeed a cause for celebration, why is it that many mothers are found to be depressed and in a low mood just a few days after delivery? The answer is that the body of a new mum undergoes huge hormonal changes which bring about some changes in moods and behaviors. Add to that the feeling of exhaustion that all mothers feel and you can understand why many mothers experience the ‘baby blues’ which just last for a couple of days and don’t affect their capability to take care of their baby.
But in some cases a new mother might experience depression symptoms after giving birth, which will not go away in a couple of days and will need proper attention from a doctor. They might suffer from a condition known as post-natal depression which is treatable and quite common in new mothers.
Post Natal Depression – What Is It?
Post Natal Depression or PND is a depressive illness which has been found to affect 10 to 15% of pregnant women. The symptoms of these conditions are quite common to regular depression. A new mother might experience a low mood along with a number of other symptoms, which might last for a couple of weeks. She might find it hard to look after her baby if the depression symptoms are too severe.
Some support from family and friends can help new mothers to overcome this condition; however in cases of severe depression help from a doctor might be needed.
The symptoms of PND usually start within a couple of months of delivery. Yet there are also chances that a mother might feel depressed after several months of giving birth to her new baby. According to a study, around one third of the mothers suffering from PND had symptoms which started during their pregnancy and continued after giving birth.
What Are The Symptoms Of PND?
How will you know if your low energy and mood swings are just ‘baby blues’ or the initial symptoms of a post-natal depression condition? Following are the symptoms of PND. If you think you might have some of these symptoms, then you should consult your doctor.
A mum with PND can experience symptoms such as;
- Feeling depressed, tearful and low all the time. You might feel worse in the mornings and evenings
- Getting angry and irritated with everyone
- Losing your appetite and forgetting to eat
- Experiencing sleeplessness even when feeling very tired. Most new mums with PND wake up early or just lie awake at night while the baby sleeps, worrying about different things
- Feeling tired and depressed can bring about symptoms of exhaustion
- Not feeling any interest in anything
Some other feelings that a mother with PND can experience include;
- Guilty and negative thoughts that you are not a good mum and that the baby will not love you
- Loss of confidence
- Inability to cope with responsibilities
- Anxious feelings that the baby is very ill, underweight, cries too much or is too quiet
- Fear that you have a physical illness and anxiety that your condition won’t get better
- Severe anxiety which leads to increased heart rate, breathlessness, sweating and a racing pulse
- Avoiding to meet with family and friends
- Finding it difficult to get proper postnatal support
These worrying symptoms, feelings and experiences make post-natal depression very inconvenient for new mothers.
What Causes Post Natal Depression In New Mothers?
There isn’t one reason which may cause post-natal depression in a mother. A range of different stresses may all add up to produce depression symptoms in a mother who gave birth just a couple of weeks ago.
It is however, important for new mothers to know that they have a chance of suffering from post-natal depression, if they,
- Have had depression before
- Experienced anxiety or depression during pregnancy
- Suffered a recent stressing event, like the loss of a loved one or the ending of an important relationship
- Lack of any support from family members or their friend circle
- Have an underactive thyroid condition
How to Avoid Post Natal Depression?
Since there is no single cause or reason for post-natal depression, it is hard to find out what you should avoid to prevent suffering from this mental condition. Some of the suggestions you can try out include;
- Don’t tire yourself out by trying to do everything
- Become friends with women who are either pregnant or have had a baby
- Talk to a friend and relieve your stress
- Readily accept all offers of help from friends and all family members to avoid over-tiring yourself
- Take treatment prescribed by a doctor for depression in pregnancy. It can be a medication or a form of talking therapy
- Join and visit antenatal classes with your partner or friend. You will make friends with new mums and feel comfortable and less stressed out
A new mother suffering from post-natal depression usually gets better within 3 to around 6 months, without any need for treatment. Statistics show that one in around every four mothers still suffer from effects of post-natal depression when their baby becomes one year old.
It is important to seek medical help from a doctor if the depression symptoms persist for some time. PND affects the new motherhood experience and negatively affects the relationship of the new mum with the baby and with her partner. The stress may affect your ability to look after yourself and your child and may cause guilty feelings which only add to the stress and depressive symptoms.
As a new mother, you and your partner need to be on the lookout for any signs of depression and quickly consult your doctor to know if it is just ‘baby blues’ or a post-natal depression condition which you have to treat. If you want assistance at night time contact Nanny Options for one of our Maternity Nurses.
© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.
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