Post natal depression
While two out of three women will experience the Third day baby blues, around 16 per cent of women giving birth in New Zealand will be affected by Post Natal Depression (PND). While it sometimes sets in right after delivery, PND can also sneak up on a Mum, taking months or even a year to develop.
What is PND?
PND is the name given to depression that a woman experiences in the months after the birth of her baby. The signs and symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased irritability and frustration
- Feelings hopeless or out of control
- Feeling anxious and worried for no good reason
- Little or no concern about your appearance
- Inability to sleep or excessive sleep
- Crying spells
- Negative thoughts about yourself or your baby
What causes PND?
As with any kind of depression, there is no one definite cause for PND. According to Beyond Blue, it’s likely to result from a combination of factors, including:
- a past history of depression and/or anxiety
- a stressful pregnancy
- depression during the current pregnancy
- a family history of mental disorders
- experiencing severe 'baby blues’
- a prolonged labour and delivery complications
- problems with the baby’s health
- difficulty breastfeeding
- a lack of practical, financial and/or emotional support
- past history of abuse
- difficulties in close relationships
- sleep deprivation
- being a single parent
- having an unsettled baby
- having unrealistic expectations about motherhood
- moving house
- making work adjustments (ie, stopping or re-starting work)
What is the treatment for PND?
PND can be treated in a range of ways.
- Pyschological treatment - or counseling can help to change negative thoughts and feelings and aid recovery by encouraging involvement in activities.
- Medication - can play an important role in assisting the management of PND from day to day.
What can I do to help myself?
While depression makes motivation difficult, there are things you can do to assist your own recovery. These include:
See your doctor for professional diagnosis and assistance
Seek out other mothers in your neighbourhood, including those who also have PND
Ask friends or family members to look after your baby to give you some time to yourself
Spend time with your partner to help nurture the relationship
Take things one step at a time
Try to eat a balanced diet.
For more ideas, visit Post Natal Distress Support Group.