Postnatal Depression

You may have expected to be slightly weepy and emotional, immediately after your baby was born. But why is that feeling not going away? Why does it feel like your head is in a dark cloud and you canít breathe? Your baby blues may have extended longer that they should have and itís very likely that youíre suffering from postnatal depression.

Symptoms of Postnatal Depression

You may feel:

  • Irritable and confused
  • Out of control
  • Like crying for no reason
  • Helpless
  • Inadequate
  • Unable to cope
  • Worried all the time
  • Scared and panicky
  • Ashamed and guilty

You may struggle to:

  • Sleep
  • Eat normally
  • Be motivated
  • Be sexually intimate with your partner

Do you feel like:

  • You donít love the baby the way you should
  • You think you could hurt your baby or yourself

If youíre experiencing any or many of these symptoms, phone your doctor immediately. What is important is that postnatal depression isnít something that you could have prevented. Itís not your fault!

How Common Is Postnatal Depression?

Approximately 10 Ė 20 percent of women, who give birth, are likely to experience Postnatal Depression. If you donít have this treated, it could last for months or even longer.

How Does It Feel To Have Postnatal Depression?

Youíll feel depressed, unhappy and miserable most of the time. Itíll feel like your head is stuck in a thick black cloud and you wonít be able to get it out. Itíll also feel like you have a heavy weight on your shoulders. Youíll want to cry all the time and you wonít know why. In fact, you may find that youíll sob for ages about nothing at all. Youíll be tired all the time. Nothing will get you up and going. Youíll be so tired, that you may feel physically ill.

Youíll feel irritable with yourself, your baby, your partner and your friends. The silliest of things will make you see red, whereas before you would have laughed it off. Youíll be anxious about trivial things. Is your baby gaining the right amount of weight, are you losing weight fast enough, does that dinner really taste nice? You wonít want to be alone with your baby, in case he falls ill and you wonít know how to treat him. You may not want to drive with your baby in the car. Anxiety in postnatal depression is completely overwhelming, to the extent that you wonít be able to function normally.

Youíll feel that you canít cope at all. You may feel like you want to dump your baby with your partner and run away. Itíll feel as though you canít do anything right and everything, no matter how trivial, is overwhelming. Youíll lose interest in things that usually gave you joy. Reading a book, visiting a friend, cooking or even sex will become a chore and not something enjoyable.

How Do You Deal With Postnatal Depression?

The important thing is to tell someone; your partner, mother or friend, how youíre feeling. They may be able to give you the support that you need.
Speak to your doctor or healthcare provider. Heíll understand what youíre going through and may prescribe medication. This will probably be the best solution to your condition and will have you feeling like yourself in a few weeks time.

Remember that taking an anti-depressant isnít a sign that youíve failed as a mother. In fact, itís a sign that youíve acknowledged that youíre struggling to cope and that you want to get your life back on track. A happy mum means a happy baby. Without treatment, you may find that the first few months or years of your babyís life will be miserable, stressful times. Itís better to get help sooner rather than later. Also remember that depression is a medical condition. Itís not a condition that developed because of something that you did or didnít do.

Other forms of help for postnatal depression include:

  • Exercise
  • Seeing a therapist
  • Eating properly
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Joining a support group
  • Making time for yourself
  • Making time for your partner
  • Postnatal Psychosis

Postnatal Psychosis is an uncommon but severe psychiatric illness, where a mother becomes out of touch with reality, after her baby is born. She may have thoughts of hurting her baby or herself. She may also act irrationally without realising it.

Other symptoms include:

  • Racy thoughts
  • Excessive behaviour
  • Elevated moods
  • Delusions
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty with concentration

Women may even experience:

  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • Obsessive thoughts

Itís not entirely clear what causes postnatal psychosis. Perfectly normal women, with no history of depression, develop this condition once their babies are born. Doctors believe it might be a combination of hormonal and biological changes.

How Is Postnatal Psychosis Treated?

This is almost always treated with medication. Should a woman experience any of the above symptoms, itís crucial that she gets in touch with her doctor immediately.Heíll recommend that the woman gets psychiatric treatment. In severe cases, she may have to be hospitalised. A mother, suffering from postnatal psychosis, should not be left alone with her baby, when sheís not doing well. She should have a good support group, including her partner, mother and friends, whom she can speak to when she feels that sheís not coping. Postnatal psychosis is not your fault! You arenít having thoughts of hurting your baby because you hate him, but because youíre medically ill. Should you ever think about hurting your baby and youíre concerned that you may actually go through with it, put your baby in a safe place e.g. in his cot or pram and find someone who can help you.

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