Postnatal depression is a common depressive disorder among women who have just given birth. Because of all the physiological changes they went through and the added responsibility of caring for the new baby, it is normal for women to feel low a few days after childbirth. Such feelings can range in severity from the mild “baby blues” on through to postnatal depression and the most serious and rare cases of postnatal psychosis.
What Are the Symptoms of Postnatal Depression?
The symptoms of postnatal depression are very similar to the “regular” depression like persistent feelings of being miserable even if there is no obvious reason to be. Usually, the worst feelings come during mornings although they may feel bad all day long. Then there is the inability to enjoy one’s self, particularly the new mothers who feel that motherhood in reality is not what they expected it to be. It is also common for women going through postnatal depression to feel irritable either with themselves, their other children, the new baby or their partners.
Sleepless nights are part and parcel of taking care of a new baby. However, sleep disturbance is more pronounced in cases of postnatal depression. The woman suffering from postnatal depression often has difficulty going to sleep even though she is tired or finds herself waking up very early in the morning. This makes her feel weary and exhausted. The problem is compounded by loss of appetite as the sufferer is often not interested in food despite the fact that she needs to increase her energy level if she is to attend to her child.
Treating Postnatal Depression
Postnatal depression is very treatable and is treated in the same manner as ordinary depression. Similarly, the first step is consultation with the physician regarding the symptoms which the health professional will have to look at closely. A treatment plan will be proposed based on the exact symptoms reported. Treatments for postnatal depression differ as they would depend on the nuances of each case.
Antidepressants are prescribed at times but this can be a problem if the mother is breastfeeding. Although there are drugs considered safe even if they get into the breast milk, the patient may prefer natural alternatives which she can explore with her doctor. Sometimes, talking about the problem with somebody knowledgeable, like a health visitor or counselor, can be helpful. And so would getting extra support and help with the baby’s care be helpful for the depressed mother.
Through it all, it is important to remain positive. Help is always available. It is only a matter of seeking it and being honest with one’s problems. The desire to get better should be paramount.
Resources you can use:
- Postnatal Depression
- Postpartum depression: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
- Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale