Post-Natal Depression-It’s Mental Health Awareness week and an important subject.
I thought I’d share some symptoms of Post-Natal Depression as many people are not even aware they have it until they are out the other side or on reflection, many years later. There is still much shame and taboo around the subject, this needs addressing if we are to improve well-being and early parent/child relationships. Many of my sleep clients say their health visitor believes they have post-natal depression, it’s because they are not getting the sleep they need and their baby is waking frequently at night. These mums tell me, ‘I’m not depressed I just need sleep’. The fact they can make that distinction tells me they simply want help with their child’s sleep so they can recover their energy levels and start getting on top of things and back to a more normal life. It’s a fine line.
Where does depression differ from sleep deprivation?
There are some things to look out for if you know someone who’s ‘not up to much’ after their child’s birth.
Firstly, be aware the symptoms can show up months later up to a year or more later.
The baby ‘blues’ and tearfulness lasts a few days and occurs shortly after birth. These symptoms disappear within two weeks.
A mother may lose interest in things she used to enjoy and find it hard to get going each day.
She may be tearful, unmotivated and feel more anxious than normal.
She may have irrational thoughts and frightening thoughts, even consider harming her child.
She may show love but not bond properly with her child.
Anxiety may stop her doing everyday activities, like washing up, going out and cause withdrawn behaviour.
She may experience feelings of helplessness, and hopelessness and feel not cut out to be a mother.
Her personality may change from being outgoing, optimistic and organised to being the opposite, lonely, scared and living in chaos.
What to do?
Depression is a mental state and a feeling that invariably doesn’t go away by itself however positive you may be. It’s caused by a chemical imbalance and sometimes drugs are required or in severe cases hospitalization. Talking therapy can help too and is a good starting point if unsure about your symptoms. Getting your child’s sleep into some sort of routine or sleeping through the night if old enough, even from 3-4 months old is a way to alleviate symptoms. If you are still not sleeping and not feeling ‘yourself’ be brave and reach out, tell someone how you feel.
When your child is sleeping but you’re not, if you constantly feel exhausted and have extreme anxiety throughout the day, it’s usually a sign that you are suffering with post-natal depression and it’s time to seek some help. Please know that symptoms are not permanent, the mothers that I have worked with have gone on to live happy and fulfilling lives and have amazing relationships with their children. If you know someone who you suspect is suffering offer a helping hand, take the baby for a walk, cook or maybe do some cleaning and simply listen and be ‘there’ for them.