Millions of women around the world suffer from some form of post-natal depression. While it mostly affects women, it can also impact on fathers, though this is much less common. It’s not unusual to feel anxious after the birth of a baby, after all it’s a huge responsibility bringing a new life into the world. Many mothers have what are called the ‘baby blues’ which last for a couple of weeks after the birth until they get into the routine of having this new responsibility in their lives.
Post-natal depression is a real condition that persists much longer than the blues and has all the hallmarks of clinical depression such as a low mood, lack of energy, frightening thoughts, and often difficulty bonding with the baby. It’s something that doesn’t just suddenly happen but seems to develop gradually during the weeks after birth and can last for months afterwards.
Getting a Diagnosis
Post-natal depression can be compounded by a mother feeling inadequate and failing to in her duties to her child because she feels this way. This can often stop people seeking medical help. It’s important to know that post-natal depression is a common illness and that there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. You need to go to your doctor or midwife and seek the right help.
For partners who spot the signs of post-natal depression it is important to get their loved one to accept that there is a problem and that they need to do something about it.
Treating Post-Natal Depression
While this can be a frightening time for many mothers, there is plenty of help and treatment options out there. First of all, there are things your family and you should be doing to stay as healthy as possible such as eating properly and taking plenty of exercise. Accept help when it is offered and don’t try to be a ‘supermum’ – you can’t do everything.
If you have been to your doctor, then they may suggest something like psychological therapy that can help you come to terms and manage your depression. This can include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or Interpersonal Therapy which are both about talking through your emotions and finding a way out to the other side. In more severe examples of post-natal depression, anti-depressants are administered but this is usually more of a last resort and only used in a very small number of cases.
Joining Support Groups
Most local areas have support groups for mothers who suffer from post-natal depression and you should join these and get in contact with those who have been through a similar experience. You’ll find out that it is actually a very common condition.
Joining a support group can not only help you realise that you have a real condition and aren’t failing as a mother but also that there is plenty you can do to get over it. The worst thing you can do is try to soldier on and pretend nothing is happening.
For both mothers and partners, a period of post-natal depression can be an emotionally draining experience and getting all the help you can is important. It is important to take advantage of the support available and for partners to show the compassion and care that a new mother needs. The good news is that, with the right treatment and support, post-natal depression should pass within a few months.