Postnatal Depression and Why You're Not Alone

Postnatal depression can be a touchy topic but it’s important to speak up if you are suffering. While the condition is relatively common, it can be dangerous if left untreated. This post will cover the facts of postnatal depression, tips, and where to get help.

What are the symptoms?

Also known as postpartum depression, this condition is serious and if you suspect you may have it, don’t hesitate to seek help. Note that this is not the same as getting the “baby blues” (feeling emotional and teary a few days after birth caused by hormonal changes). Signs of postnatal depression include:

  • Negative thoughts and/or feelings
  • Feeling inadequate as a parent
  • Lacking motivation
  • A sense of hopelessness for the future
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or ashamed
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Feeling empty, exhausted, or sad
  • Excessive worrying about your baby

It’s important to remember that postnatal depression is very common. It’s estimated one in seven to ten mothers develop postnatal depression. It’s also necessary to note that postnatal depression isn’t exclusive to mothers; fathers can develop it, too. Roughly one in ten men are affected by depression during pregnancy or after their baby is born. Symptoms can develop over a long period of time or very quickly. Men and women affected by PND often withdraw from everyone, often including their partner and baby. This is not a sign of bad parenting – but it is a sign that you should be seeking professional help.

What can I do for myself?

What can you do to help yourself? While it’s highly advised to speak to a doctor or midwife, some things you can do to assist yourself in recovery include:

  • Take time out for yourself. Arrange for somebody to take care of the baby every now and then so you can do a fun activity or relax.
  • Keep handy portioned foods nearby (vegetables and dip, dried or fresh fruits, pre-made sandwiches).
  • Find a support network (friends, family, your partner) to help you speak about what’s bothering you.
  • Meet other mums at a playgroup or mothers’ group and perhaps meet people who have gone through the same thing as you.

Where can I seek help?

The earlier you seek support, the faster you can recover. It’s okay not to be okay, and parents who think they may be affected by postnatal depression are encouraged to reach out. Even though it may feel like it, you are not alone, and there are many people out there who have felt the same way as you are right now and continued living a very fulfilling and happy life with their family. If you think you may be suffering with postnatal depression, contact your GP or midwife as soon as you can to discuss treatment options.

Everything will be okay and you are loved. Hang in there!