What is postnatal depression?
Postnatal depression is a common illness which usually occurs in women after having a baby. According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, between 10 to 15 women out of 100 are affected by this type of depression. It involves a constant state of sadness, little to no energy and finding difficulty in bonding with your baby. Depending on the severity of this issue, women may also find it a struggle to manage simple tasks, such as looking after themselves or their baby.
What are the signs of postnatal depression?
There are many signs of postnatal depression with the most common symptom being feeling upset and tearful without any valid reason. Other signs can vary but often include losing interest in activities that one would normally enjoy, such as going shopping or gardening, feeling low with a lack of energy as well as avoiding contact with friends and family. Furthermore, mental exhaustion alongside bursts of anger can also point to postnatal depression. It is very important to seek medical help when one identifies these symptoms in themselves or others, as this can further escalate to having negative thoughts leading to anxiety and self harming behaviours, or worse, suicidal tendencies. This type of depression develops gradually, therefore it is important to stay alert on the early signs and symptoms.
How can postnatal depression be overcome?
The first step to seeking treatment for postnatal depression is by admitting that there is an issue which needs to be resolved, as this will allow a referral to be made to a health professional that specialises in mental health. Through one to one counselling, a care plan can then be put into place in order to treat the depression by helping one to understand their state, learning to keep in a positive state of mind and improve their overall quality of life as this will all equip them in better healing themselves. One of most common approaches to heal from postnatal depression is via cognitive behaviour therapy (otherwise known as CBT). CBT provides an individual with helpful techniques to manage their depression by changing the way they approach negative thoughts and by utilising meditation to relax them – this can be undertaken via the NHS or private psychiatry services, depending on personal preferences.
If this therapy feels like an unsuccessful method, the health professional can prescribe antidepressants, with or without CBT, in order to effectively help with controlling the emotions associated with postnatal depression. Whilst there is research which suggests that 50% to 70% of women who have moderate to severe postnatal depression feel that their health has improved within a few weeks of starting antidepressants, many still tend to avoid this type of medication due to unwanted side effects such as feeling drowsy, a loss of appetite, feeling nauseous as well as headaches. In some cases, the anti-depressants can react with other medications you may be taking, but your health care provider will ensure that a suitable type of drug is chosen based on your lifestyle. Furthermore, some of the side effects improve over time and go away when the body gets used to the medication, so it is worth speaking to a medical professional if you really can’t cope with your symptoms – you may think that they might not be related to postnatal depression; however it affects individuals in different ways.
On a final note, remember that being diagnosed with postnatal depression doesn’t make you a bad mother!