Over half of mothers who suffer with depression after birth with Postpartum Depression (PPD), also known as Postnatal Depression (PND), do not seek medical help for the condition, according to recent statistics from the UK's Charity 4 Children. The local health and well-being service is urging those needing help to reach out and ‘Enjoy Your Baby’.
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Approximately 58% of new mothers with PND that were surveyed by the charity did not seek the correct medical help, often due to them not understanding the condition or fearing the consequences of reporting the problem. Many felt like sharing their issues with even family and friends would be a "burden" to other people, so they faced the depression alone. It is a problematic situation where new mums urged to seek help.
"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."
— A new father reminisces about the months following the birth of their first son
What is postpartum depression?
PPD is a depressive illness in a woman following soon after she has given birth. Most PND needs to be assessed by a healthcare professional as, if untreated, it may have 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 not uncommon and usually only last for a few days. They may be due to sudden hormone 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 PND, yet many put up with the symptoms without seeking help. Many mothers do not recognise the condition or realise that there is treatment available.
How long does it last?
PPD usually begins two-to-eight weeks after delivery, and the duration of PPD will depend on the severity of the case, and whether the mother seeks help. Sometimes the symptoms of baby blues do not go away or can appear some time after the birth of the baby.
Signs of postnatal 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. It is important to note that men also experience postnatal depression (and estimated one in ten).
Some other signs of postnatal depression are:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of enjoyment
- Not coping
Signs of PPD in new parents that partners, families and friends should look out for include: frequent crying for no reason, difficulty bonding with the baby, withdrawing from contact with others, speaking negatively, neglecting hygiene, and losing sense of time or constant worrying. If you think someone you know may be suffering from PND, encourage them to talk about how they are feeling. This articledescribes how new parents are impacted by the added stress of having a baby.
Postpartum depression treatment
PPD must be formally diagnosed by a doctor and a bespoke treatment must be formalized for each mum's unique case. A course of treatment can including counselling, relaxation and mindfulness techniques, nutritional and fitness plans, and in extreme situations, medication. For those that are experiencing anxiety, here are some tips on how to self-manage the emotions.
See this article on how else you can support someone with postpartum depression.
To find out more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment of post-natal depression contact Ian Disley of Mindworks Health and Well-being Services and ask about our ‘Enjoy Your Baby’ classes and their Talking Therapy Services. You may contact him directly through his profile here.
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