Postnatal depression is more than the 'baby blues' that so many women go through in the first days after birth. This article also appears on www.bbc.co.uk/parenting/having_a_baby
It's almost routine to feel tearful and 'down' on or after day two or three, and for this to last a day or so. This is due to exhaustion and surges in hormones after the birth.
Postnatal depression (PND) is longer-lasting and stronger in its effects.
Research shows something like 10 to 15 percent of new mothers are depressed after the birth, and there may be many more who have weeks or months of intermittent feelings of depression.
"...spells of feeling low, isolated or very tired..."
Some experts think postnatal depression is a spectrum of feelings with the most severe collection of symptoms at one end, and at the other, spells of feeling low, isolated, or very tired.
"What often happens is that the mum doesn't recognise the depression in herself. She keeps waiting for her mood to lift and to be more like who she perceives other mums to be. Even people close to her may not see how difficult life is for her.
You might have some (but usually not all) of the following:
If you experience any of these signs you may be suffering from PND.
Getting help with postnatal depression People can be helped in different ways.
The following are some examples of help available:
Some doctors feel PND is to do with falling hormone levels and treat it with progesterone or oestrogen. Your doctor may prescribe conventional anti-depressants for a short time.
If you think you may need help, speak to your health visitor, midwife or doctor.
"It took me several months to break out of what felt like a fog. I thought this feeling was normal, and I just lived with it " never really putting a label on it. I think meeting other people and gaining in confidence made a difference."
"Info: It's important to get help " PND left untreated can have an effect on babies. Research shows that behavioural issues especially with boys can be long-lasting. A depressed mother is less able to respond to her baby and to feel 'attached' and this has an impact on learning and development."
When a mum gets depressed she will needs lots of love, as well as practical support, to help get her through. You may find you begin to feel depressed also. These feelings are perfectly normal, but do not ignore them. If you need support, confide in friends and family as well as your partner. Things will get easier in time.
Maybe one or two new mums in every thousand suffer from this serious mental illness after childbirth. Clinically it's quite different from postnatal depression. Treatment is more serious, and may need to be given in hospital for a time.
Mothers with PP can act very strangely, and have very 'odd' ideas. They may hallucinate or start acting 'hyper'. One mum felt she had to start washing all the baby's clothes in the middle of the night, for example. Mood swings at both extremes of high or low can happen suddenly. The outlook for PP is pretty good " most women make a full recovery. But they are at a higher risk than others of it happening again after a subsequent birth.
If you think you or your partner is suffering from PP it's very important to get help from your doctor or health visitor.
Symptoms include depression, mood swings, bizarre behaviour or ideas, delusions and hallucinations with paranoia. Urgent treatment is needed to prevent harm to mum or baby.
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