Having a baby is supposed to be one of the most exciting experiences of you life. So why are you feeling this persistent overwhelming sense of sadness and hopelessness?
Postnatal Depression can be a scary thing for new moms, especially when they do not know exactly why they are experiencing these feelings.
According to the Post Natal Depression Support Association (PNDSA), new moms can expect to be tired, short of sleep, and may feel as if their lives are chaotic. It’s normal to feel somewhat anxious and incompetent, but as the weeks pass, a mom should start to feel as if she is coping more and more.
However this is not always the case. Sometimes those blues won’t go away and as the days turn into weeks and months, she slowly gets sucked into a downward spiral of depression and anxiety.
So what is Postnatal Depression?
In a nutshell, PNDSA explains that Postnatal Depression is an emotional, or mood disorder that occurs after the birth of a baby. There are three types of Postnatal Depression found.
The first is the -Baby Blues’. According to PNDSA, about 75% of all new mothers experience Postpartum Blues. The symptoms usually occur on about the third or fourth days after the birth and include tearfulness, mood changes, irritability, agitation, and sleep disturbance.
The -Baby Blues’ is simply a biological response to the changes of hormonal levels associated with childbirth and are completely natural. The -Baby Blues does not last long, and after several days a new mom should be feeling better.
The second type of Postnatal Depression is called Postnatal or Postpartum Psychosis. PNDSA explains that this is a serious illness that develops suddenly soon after the birth and symptoms may include hallucinations, delusions, severe insomnia, extreme anxiety, suicidal and homicidal thinking, and generally a loss of contact with reality. Fortunately this is a very rare illness with only 1 or 2 per 1000 woman reportedly developing it.
Mothers who develop postnatal psychosis need immediate and urgent medical attention that could involve being hospitalized for the protection of the mother and those around her. With correct treatment, the mother will recover.
The third type is full-blown Postnatal Depression. According to PNDSA, between 15 and 30 percent of all mothers in all circumstances will have this condition. It can develop immediately after the birth, or at any time in the first year after childbirth. PNDSA states that this condition is not -just hormonal . Symptoms vary, but include unexplained feelings of sadness, feeling trapped and frustrated, feeling overwhelmed, incompetent and helpless, feeling out of control, feeling disconnected from the baby, feeling numb, feeling unbearably anxious, panicky and scared, major changes in eating and sleeping patterns, feelings of loss of joy and motivation, and the experience of intrusive thoughts, and suicidal and homicidal ideas. The good news is that Postnatal Depression is very treatable with appropriate medication, support, counseling and psychotherapy.
PNDSA states that there are other Postnatal Depression related conditions that new moms should be aware of. Some women develop Postnatal Panic and Anxiety Disorders. They do not feel depressed, but extremely anxious. They may have panic attacks, with breathlessness, speeded up heart rates, and feelings of dizziness. This too can be treated with appropriate medication, support, counseling and psychotherapy.
Some women may also develop Postnatal Obsessive-Compulsive symptoms. They may experience repetitive intrusive thoughts such as hurting the baby, that something bad will happen if they do not perform tasks in a set order, avoidance of certain people and situations because of irrational fears, scary and uncharacteristic. Again, treatment is effective, and will be likely to include medication, counseling and appropriate support.
PNDSA concluded by saying that having a baby is exhausting and disorientating, but if a new mom feels as if things are getting worse rather than better, or if she is feeling very anxious, panicky, irritable, angry, withdrawn, forgetful, tearful or if she feels that the baby would do better without her, then she could be experiencing Postnatal Depression and she should seek help.
PNDSA has a national helpline that can be reached on 082 882 0072. Alternatively, new moms can sms -help’ and their name to 082 882 0072 and PNDSA says they will contact her.
Are you suffering from postnatal depression?
PNDSA listed several symptoms of postnatal depression for new moms to be aware of. These unusual symptoms will generally have been present most of the time, for a period of longer than ten days. Mood swings are common and many women report feeling numb.
- Feeling sad; suicidal thinking, overwhelmed with fatigue, hopeless, guilty, lonely, abandoned or feeling no love for baby
- Feeling out of control, irritable, frustrated, trapped, fighting with other people
- Feeling anxious most of the time, fear that she might harm herself, the baby or others, fearfulness, obsessive anxiety over health, or panic attacks
- Of joy, motivation, loss of interest in her own appearance or taking care of herself, loss of interest in sex, loss of libido or appetite
- Dramatic change in appetite, insomnia, agitation, restlessness, headaches, or nausea, vomiting, other unusual physical symptoms