Venturing into motherhood can be a daunting experience, bringing with it many mixed emotions.
Adding Post Natal Depression (PND) to the list of challenges to deal with can prove overwhelming, but the good news is help is available to all mothers experiencing these symptoms.
PND is described as depression that has occurred within 3 months and in some cases up to 6 months following the birth of your child.
Symptoms of Post Natal Depression
The symptoms that are experienced with post natal depression are similar to those experienced in Depression and can include:
- Feeling helpless, guilty;
- Changes in sleep and eating habits;
- Depressed mood;
- Suicidal thoughts and/or plans/action;
- Avoiding leaving the house;
- Decreased libido;
- Fear for the baby/yourself.
Strategies for Overcoming PND
Seeking professional help from a psychologist can help mothers to overcome PND, and treatment will likely include a number of strategies such as:
- Exploring and addressing possible contributing factors.
- Increasing social support from family and friends – this can be very beneficial in the treatment process to decrease feelings of being isolated and alone.
- Helping mums to understand that having PND does not mean they are a “bad” parent.
- In some situations, Couples Therapy may be beneficial – for example, if the partner is unsure how to provide support to the mother; the partner is not providing the mother with adequate support; and also to provide education regarding PND.
- Assisting the mother in building her self-confidence, in her judgment and capability as a parent. Learning to manage the intrusive negative thoughts and feelings associated with PND can be done with the help of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
- With the enormous popularity of social media, it is helpful to learn how to live in line with your own values rather than making comparisons to often misleading material on apps such as Facebook, Instagram etc. Many women wind up feeling like they are failing at motherhood.
- Identifying and understanding whether a healthy attachment between mother and baby has been established, or resolving any attachment issues, can help alleviate symptoms.
- Making yourself part of the priority list. Nurturing yourself is very important, so you can be around for as long as possible and live the meaningful life that you want for yourself and your family!
Remember, PND is not a reflection of personal shortcomings. It is often difficult for women to accept that they might be suffering from PND, or to psychologically digest having been given this “label”. I want to reassure you that in my consulting room, the term “PND” is used for no other reason than to guide the therapeutic process.
If motherhood seems much harder than you thought, or you are struggling with any of the symptoms mentioned above, I encourage you to see your GP or book an appointment with me. PND can be treated with psychological assistance, so that you can move forward in life and be the mother you want to be!
Author: Leia Redman, B Psych, M Psych (Clinical), MAPS, CCLIN.
Leia Redman is a clinical psychologist, working with children, adolescents, adults, couples and families. She has training and experience in a variety of evidence-based treatment approaches, and aims to create an open and trusting environment where clients are empowered to take steps towards living a meaningful life, and becoming the best version of themselves.
To make an appointment with Clinical Psychologist Leia Redman try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.
- Treatment Protocol Project (2004). Management of Mental Disorders (4th Edition). Sydney. World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Evidence in Mental Health Policy.