Postnatal depression is something that affects 1 in every 10 women. It is a type of depression that leaves the mother feeling immense sadness, having little or no enthusiasm/ energy or even lack of emotion for her baby.
The truth is that this depression can start at any point within the first year that the baby is born and on occasions, and lasts longer than the in more commonly referred “Baby blues” which usually only lasts a couple of weeks after giving birth.
Causes of Postnatal depresson
As soon as the baby is conceived there is a huge change in the hormones within your body. These hormones are constantly changing due to the requirements of the baby and mother, from preparation for pregnancy, through to the birth of your baby and production of milk.
These hormones can affect women differently, in most cases providing a calming affect or sense of well-being but for other it can affect them negatively, disrupting their emotions and leaving them feeling anxious, tearful or irritable. Not to mention the enormous changes that happen to your body, which might be different from what was originally expected and could be hard to adapt to.
Other influencing factors are things like support we receive during and after birth. Lack in support can leave you feeling alone, unsafe or anxious. This eventually leads to Postnatal depression. This can leave you feeling several different emotions.
- Feelings of shame
- That we are bad
- Feeling alone
- a Dip in your mood (a low feeling)
- Lack of interest in activities
- Suicidal thoughts
Influencing factors are, being prone to depression in the past, relationship issues and financial difficulties. It is important to remember that postnatal depression is not due to any defects or inadequacies in the woman.
Assumptions after birth
What happens when your baby is born.
We assume that when the baby is born that you would suddenly experience an incredible sense of overwhelming love. But in reality nearly 40% of all first time mothers have reported feeling indifferent.
There are several reason for this. If you have had a difficult or traumatic labour and possibly required more pain relief than usual, this could cause you to feel a sense of shame or disappointment and could greatly affect how you feel after and contribute to developing postnatal depression. There is also the impact on your hormones, this is due to increased stress levels, this increases Cortisol and releases Adrenaline, which in turn reduces the hormones required for milk production and the bonding experience.
Another reason for having these emotions could be due to having carried the baby for such a long time and the build up of emotions and changes to the body, then after the birth, suddenly it is all gone as if nothing has happened and little or no recognition is given to the life changing event that has just happened to the mother and her body.
After this significant event there is also a wide variety of factors that contribute to the feeling of depression such as:
- Physical recovery
- Changes in hormone levels
- Feelings towards ourselves and your baby
What is Baby blues?
Baby blues is very common and affects almost all women, usually 3-4 days after birth. This is caused by the huge drop in hormones which were required during birth. These were essential for during the pregnancy and for the delivery of the baby.
Common characteristics are
- Mild depression
- Feeling tearful
- a Temporary drop in the bond between mother and baby
How to deal with these emotions
Many women rely on a support system that they are comfortable with and whom understands them. Others have found calming/soothing activities that help them reduce the impact of post natal depression such as:
- Going on walks
- Taking up hobbies you enjoy
- Mindfulness meditation
Treatments are always best to be discussed with you Gp. Medication does help on some occasions, but can give unwanted side effects and is not always suitable for women who are breastfeeding. You can find a local Perinatal mental health team for support. Alternatively there are several therapies available which could help you without the need for medication.
Speak to someone, it is important to tell someone who cares, whether it is a loved one or a professional. Recovering from postnatal depression depends entirely on the severity and your background with depression amongst the other contributing factors.
Postnatal depression is seen by GP’s and therapists as a real issue, but it is definitely treatable if you seek the right help soon enough.
Do you struggle with Depression, and what do you find helps you or makes things easier? We would appreciate your comments below, this would greatly benefit other women in the same position.