I’ve been working with women who are having babies for many years now, and one thing I’ve noticed is that some women can be depressed without knowing it.
It’s not all that straightforward to spot, because the symptoms of postnatal depression include things like feeling tired (!), low mood, tearfulness, problems concentrating and feeling irritable. All the normal feelings and mood swings that women feel as a result of the enormous roller coaster ride of having just had a baby (often known as the Baby Blues).
What’s the difference between depression and the baby blues?The ‘baby blues’ or low mood and tearfulness should only really last a few days. If any of the following apply to you, and has been going on for weeks or months after your baby was born, you could be suffering from postnatal depression:
- Crying almost every day
- Feeling very low in mood
- Thinking you’re not a good mother
- Feeling angrier than you used to
- Feeling guilty for just being you
Other symptoms of postnatal depression to look out for
Anxiety is also a common symptom of depression. You may be struggling to leave the house because it makes you anxious or seems like too much trouble. Having problems getting to sleep at night because you’re worried about your baby and feeling hyper alert is also common. Many women also suffer from low mood and anxiety after a really difficult birth and many have difficulty coming to terms with it.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is not uncommon after birth. And finally, there is also something called perinatal Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, in which you might get intrusive and horrible thoughts about your baby being hurt by you, which leaves you feeling really anxious and awful.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is not uncommon after birth.
One really important thing to know is this; you can have postnatal depression and still love your baby very much. Some people think that depression means you haven’t bonded with your baby, but it’s not always the case. Many women with postnatal depression have had no problems at all bonding with their baby.
If you think you might be suffering from any of these symptoms, do talk to someone. Your health visitor and GP are both well trained and should be your first port of call. It’s also often easier to tell someone outside of your family. It’s the first step to getting better.
Mia Scotland is a Clinical Psychologist who specialises in perinatal mental health. Mia is also a birth doula, a hypnobirthing practitioner and author of “Why Perinatal Depression Matters”.
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.