Mum of 2 girls and freelance PR consultant, Catherine Scotcher, has written a first hand account of her experience of postnatal depression for which we’re extremely grateful. Catherine has shared her story to help us raise awareness and support other women who are suffering, and offers her advice on how to get through it.
When did you realise you had postnatal depression?
After the birth of our first daughter in August 2007, I realised within less than 48 hours that I was suffering with acute anxiety. I’d had two episodes of acute anxiety before so I was obviously prone to it, but had such a good pregnancy that I didn't even suspect I would be ill after the birth. It was a very traumatic birth and she was three weeks early. She also didn't breastfeed. I think all of these factors contributed.
What symptoms did you have?
The big three were acute anxiety, insomnia and lack of appetite.
What help did you get for your postnatal depression?
I spoke to my health visitor, saw my GP and was referred to the mental health team. I was under the care of the crisis team (mental health) and a psychiatrist for almost a year (not as long as that for the crisis team). I paid for hypnotherapy sessions, but I’m not convinced they helped.
How do you manage your postnatal depression now?
It's almost ten years since I had my daughter. After a lot of consideration, we decided to have another child and put loads of measures in place to prevent the PND recurring. Fortunately, it didn't and it all worked out well. I haven't had any episodes of anxiety since.
What are your top tips for postnatal depression?
If you think you’re at high risk because of previous anxiety or depression, speak to your healthcare team early on in pregnancy – you’ll be predisposed so you need professionals keeping an eye on you more than they would others. Talk, talk, talk - there is nothing to be ashamed about if you need help with mental health issues. You wouldn't tell someone with a broken leg or asthma to just deal with it themselves or get over it. It's the same with mental illness - there is help available.
Don't bottle it up. If you're suffering from PND, by far the most important thing is to accept all the help you can get and know that it will get better. This is so hard when you’re in the midst of it and people kept saying 'it will pass'. When people said this to me, I just wanted to know when!
Eventually, the more I stopped obsessing about my illness (Googling all the time) and the more I got on with living my life, it gradually got better. Try to find something you did before you were pregnant and had a baby that you loved. It's all too easy to forget that you’re a person as well as a mum, so try to do things just for you - whether that's exercise, seeing your friends, a hobby or anything that gives you some time away from your baby. Rope in help to make sure you do this.
Postnatal depression affects 1 in 7 new mums, but it's important to realise that 1 in 10 men are also affected. Share your story with us by using the hashtag #IhadPND to raise awareness and to help others who are suffering in silence.