By Ian Disley of www.mindworkscoaching.co.uk
Over half of women who suffer with depression after birth do not seek medical help for the condition, according to recent statistics from Charity 4 Children. Approximately 58% of new mothers with Postpartum Depression (PPD) that took part in the survey, did not seek the correct medical help. This is often due to them not understanding the condition or knowing that treatment is available. Many felt that sharing their issues with even family and friends would ‘burden’ other people, and so they faced the depression alone. It is a problematic situation, and new mums are urged to seek help.
A new father reminisces about the months following the birth of his first son: ‘Giving birth to our son was the happiest moment of our life. But for months after, my wife was facing a deep depression, stress, and anxiety. It became hard for her to leave the house. We didn’t know what to do. She felt so guilty about bringing this beautiful child into the world and not being able to be filled with joy and enjoy our son.’
What is postpartum depression?
PPD, also known as Postnatal Depression, is a depressive illness occurring soon after a woman has given birth. PPD needs to be assessed by a healthcare professional because if left untreated, it can have serious effects on both mother and baby.
How does postpartum depression differ from the baby blues? The term ‘baby blues’ is often used to describe a mild, short period of mild depression which many women experience after giving birth. Women may feel emotional and irrational, burst into tears for no apparent reason, and feel irritable, depressed or anxious during this period. These symptoms are common and usually only last for a few days. They may be due to the sudden hormonal and chemical changes which happen in the body after giving birth.
However, up to 10 per cent of new mothers go on to develop full-blown PPD. Many put up with the symptoms without seeking help. Many women do not recognise the condition, or realise that there is treatment available. PPD usually begins two to eight weeks after delivery. The duration of PPD will depend on the severity of the case, and whether the woman seeks help. Sometimes the symptoms of baby blues do not go away, and sometimes PPD appears some time after the birth of the baby.
Signs of postpartum depression
Feelings such as tiredness, irritability or poor appetite are normal if you have just had a baby, but usually these are mild and do not stop you living your life. With PPD, you may feel increasingly low and despondent, and looking after yourself or the baby may become too much.
Symptoms of postnatal depression include:
• Loss of appetite
• Loss of enjoyment
• Not coping
Partners, families and friends should look out for signs of PPD in new mothers. These signs include frequent crying for no apparent reason and difficulty bonding with the baby. Women might also withdraw from contact with others, speak negatively, neglect hygiene, lose sense of time, and worry constantly. If you think someone you know may be suffering from PPD, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling.
Postpartum depression treatment
A doctor can diagnose PPD, and each mother’s case is unique and requires a bespoke treatment plan. A course of treatment can include counselling, relaxation and mindfulness techniques, nutritional and fitness plans, and sometimes medication.
To find out more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of post-natal depression, contact Ian Disley of Mindworks Health and Well-being Services.