It’s not uncommon for women to feel down, tearful or anxious shortly after giving birth. This is common, is referred to as the ‘baby blues’, and is nothing to be concerned about.
However, for many, this persistent feeling of low mood, lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the world around them goes beyond the baby blues. Experts have warned that as many as one in ten women are now suffering from postnatal depression (PND) and many of them are doing so in silence because they feel too guilty to come forward about it.
What is postnatal depression?
Postnatal depression is a form of depression that many women experience after having a baby. Unbeknown to many, it can also affect fathers - although this is less common.
Sometimes there is an obvious cause of PND, such as a traumatic birth, but it can happen to anyone and, unfortunately, there’s nothing that can prevent it.
Postnatal depression can hit at any time. Approximately a third of women start experiencing symptoms during pregnancy and these then continue after the birth of their baby. For others, the symptoms may start appearing a month or two after giving birth. It’s also important to realise that it can take up to a year for the symptoms of PND to start showing and by this point, many wrongly assume that is has been too long after birth for it to be PND.
What causes postnatal depression?
Although experts can’t identify any single reason why some women experience PND and others don’t, it’s thought that there are a number of different factors which may add up to cause it including:
- You have suffered from mental illness such as depression before
- You experienced depression or anxiety during pregnancy
- You are lacking support from friends and family so may be lonely or feel overwhelmed
- You are feeling traumatised from a stressful event such as losing your job, someone close to you dying, or a relationship ending
What to do if you think you may have postnatal depression
If you think there’s a possibility that you may be suffering with postnatal depression, it’s very important that you seek help immediately. With the right help, the vast majority of women make a full recovery but if it’s ignored, the symptoms will only get worse.
A lot of women find it very difficult to come forward about PND because they worry about what people will think of them. You are likely to be experiencing extreme guilt because everyone around you is saying that this should be one of the happiest times of your life.
Remember, depression cannot be controlled, absolutely nobody is immune to it and whether you suffer from it or not bears no significance on your parenting skills. The sooner you get help, the sooner you will be able to enjoy life with your child.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of PND, please visit your GP who will be able to advise you further. Alternatively, feel free to visit our Knowledge Centre for more information about postnatal depression or contact us in the strictest of confidence for further advice or treatment options.