The media has in recent times seen a massive breakthrough in women talking about Post Natal Depression (PND).
Celebrities such as Adele, Brooke Shields, Alanis Morissette, Drew Barrymore and Courtney Cox have spoken about their own struggles with PND.
It seems to make it ‘okay’ to have conditions when ‘celebrities’ have them, perhaps because this may offer comfort that no one is immune – irrespective of money, status, being able to hire a fleet of nannies, and being seen as ‘successful’.
Up to one in five women experience PND, however the number could be higher with women not feeling confident enough to seek help.
Parenthood always comes as a shock. Postpartum blues? Postpartum panic is more like it. We set out to have a baby; what we get is a total take-over of our lives – Polly Berrien Berends.
I can recall from my own personal experience almost being in shock that it was a baby being handed to me, a baby that needed me to look after it. All of a sudden it becomes about the baby and not you. No one could possibly explain the complete change that is about to happen to you, or how difficult it is looking after a baby. I would argue that every single new mum has that feeling of ‘what do I do?’ at several points.
What are the Signs of PND?
Here are some signs to look for it you are concerned your friend or family member might be suffering from post natal depression:
- They may no longer enjoy activities they used to love, such as shopping, going to the beach or catching up for a coffee.
- You’ve noticed their self-esteem and confidence levels have plummeted.
- Their appetite has gone and they’ve lost a lot of weight without trying.
- You’ve noticed they are having broken sleep, irrespective of what their baby is doing.
- They appear to have a sense of hopelessness about everything.
- When you talk, they often speak about being a failure as a mum or a person.
- You’ve noticed they appear more subdued in social situations where they might usually thrive.
- They seem to be unusually panicky about situations, or have panic attacks.
- They have talked about a lack of libido.
- When you chat, they appear to have fears for their baby’s or partner’s safety or wellbeing.
But as with any illness, there will be hundreds of other symptoms.
This is an illness that takes away a woman’s ability to access joy …. Right at the time she needs it most – Dr Katherine Wisner.
There are two types of PND:
- Non-melancholic depression, which is linked with more psychosocial risks than genetic causes.
- Melancholic depression, which affects up to 2% of women and is caused by biological and genetic reasons.
Tips to Aid Recovery from PND
Some suggested self-help treatments are as follows:
- Seeking support and talking to family, friends and other mums who have or have had PND.
- Organising childcare.
- Writing a diary of your feelings.
- Taking time with your partner.
- Eating well and exercising.
- Practising breathing and relaxation techniques.
However it could be not one of these is beneficial for you as an individual.
In some cases a trip to the GP and anti-depressants are a necessity; talking therapies are also an excellent outlet of pent up feelings of hopelessness. You HAVE NOT failed or let anyone down and it is important that you begin to believe this, in order to improve your situation and begin your recovery from PND.
There are some brilliant real-life stories at: https://www.panda.org.au/info-support/after-birth/postnatal-recovery-stories/personal-stories-postnatal-depression.
The main thing to know is that this illness is so isolated – but isolated is the last thing you are because of this illness.
Author: Liz Taylor, BA (Hons).
Liz Taylor is a social worker with over ten years’ experience in helping people with personality disorders and other mental health issues. Liz’s counselling strategies are drawn from the Relapse Prevention Model, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). She is passionate about enabling her clients to function and feel a sense of control in their lives, and to achieve the goals and outcomes that they wish.
- Postpartum Depression (PPD) Sara Thurgood et al. American Journal of Clinical Medicine, Spring 2009, Volume six, Number two.