When I had my first child I was totally overwhelmed. She often cried through the night and I was constantly worried that she was not getting enough milk. As a result I spent hours on end breastfeeding, which was mentally and physically exhausting. Then one day a very close friend came over and insisted that I needed to get help. She said she was seriously concerned about me. Initially I resisted, but she finally talked me into seeing a therapist, who diagnosed me with postnatal depression and prescribed meds. A few weeks later the dark cloud lifted and I finally got to enjoy motherhood and my child.
If you are a new mother, it is important to be aware of the signs of postnatal depression. This condition can affect both your mental and physical health and you should never take it lightly.
What is Postnatal Depression?
Postnatal depression (PND) is a form of depression that affects new mothers after childbirth. It affects up to 20% of women who give birth, and can have a profoundly negative impact on the woman’s quality of life, her relationship with her child, and her overall wellbeing.
PND can be effectively treated with the right help and support, so it is important to recognize the tell-tale signs in order to get help as soon as possible.
Signs and Symptoms of Postnatal Depression
Difficulty Connecting with Baby
For many mothers, difficulty connecting with their baby can be an early warning sign of postnatal depression. This can manifest itself in feelings ranging from guilt or ambivalence towards their baby, to feelings of resentment or anger.
Feeling Overwhelmed or Inadequate
For some mothers, postnatal depression can be linked to feeling overwhelmed and inadequate as a parent. This can often lead to feelings such as guilt, anxiety and hopelessness around parenting responsibilities.
Lack of Interest in Activities
One common sign of PND is lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable. This might include hobbies, spending time with friends or family, or even basic self-care activities like exercise or nourishment.
Withdrawal from Social Situations
Another sign of PND is withdrawing from social situations like parties, events, and gatherings. This could range from not wanting to leave the house or actively avoiding contact with friends and family.
Having Trouble Sleeping / Feeling Tired All Day
Another common sign postnatal depression is having problems sleeping at night without exhaustion throughout the day even if sleep has been obtained during the previous night hours.
These tiredness symptoms may also encompass lack of energy and motivation, making it difficult for new parents who may already be struggling to manage other aspects that come with a newborn baby.
Change in Appetite / Sudden Weight Loss/Gain
A change in appetite – either eating significantly more than usual, or eating substantially less than normal – is another tell tale symptom associated with postnatal depression which could be accompanied by sudden weight loss/gain due to altered dietary habits caused by the condition.?
Struggling With Concentration & Memory
For some people suffering from postnatal depression, having difficulty concentrating and issues with memory can make it more challenging for them to cope on a daily basis.?
How to deal with postnatal depression
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for dealing with PND, there are several measures new mothers can take which may help them cope better and reduce some of the symptoms associated with postnatal depression. Here, we explore a few tips on how to deal with postnatal depression.
Talk to Your Doctor
One of the first steps to take when dealing with PND is to speak to your doctor and seek medical advice. Your doctor will be able to assess the severity of your condition and advise you on which treatments or medications would best suit your needs.
Rely on Support Networks
Relying on friends and family for support can be an effective way of managing feelings associated with PND. Talk openly about your feelings and do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it.
Additionally, joining support groups either online or in person can also be beneficial as they provide safe spaces where new mothers can discuss their experiences and connect with others who understand what they’re going through.
Seek Professional Help
If the signs and symptoms persist, seeking professional help such as speaking therapy or counselling may be beneficial. Professional therapy sessions allow women the opportunity to talk openly about their experiences without fear of judgement or criticism, thus reducing some of the stigma often associated with mental health conditions like PND.
Look After Yourself
It’s important for new mothers suffering from PND to look after themselves by getting enough rest and exercise, eating healthy meals, avoiding alcohol and drugs, setting aside time for yourself each day, and engaging in activities that bring joy and pleasure such as reading books or listening to music. These simple steps can contribute significantly towards improving overall wellbeing.
Finding something that makes you feel better – such as taking walks outside, meditating or practicing yoga – can make all the difference. Doing something a little bit different every now and then helps break up any stagnant routines while allowing your mind space away from worries relating to parenting responsibilities.
Final Thoughts on Postnatal Depression
Postnatal depression is a serious mental health condition that can have a profoundly negative impact on the woman’s quality of life. It is important for new mothers to be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with PND in order to identify it early and receive appropriate treatment and support. With the right help, women affected by postnatal depression can learn healthy coping strategies and build resilience so that they can manage their condition more effectively.