Postnatal depression (PND) is a mental illness. Parents who experience it are rarely comfortable openly discussing the condition. But there is support out there for PND sufferers. You can share your anxieties and fears with other people experiencing the same illness and, if necessary, you can be offered medical treatment.
What can I do if postnatal depression affects me?
The PANDAS Foundation offers peer support through a helpline, online community and local support groups. It often helps to know that another person, even though they’re a stranger, understands how you're feeling and doesn't judge you.
You should treat a mental illness as you would a physical illness. It’s important you visit your GP or talk to another healthcare practitioner such as your health visitor. Once they’ve diagnosed the condition, they can put a treatment plan in place. Then you can look at maintenance techniques such as exercise, healthy eating, self-care and mindfulness.
Different treatment options for postnatal depression
PND treatment is multifaceted, in that it may involve medical as well as psychological intervention, self-help methods and community support.
If diagnosed with PND, your doctor will be able to determine whether you need antidepressants. Antidepressants help by balancing mood-altering chemicals in your brain, alleviating severe symptoms of anxiety and low self-esteem. Your doctor may also suggest psychological treatment: in the case of PND this is usually either Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Counselling Therapy. CBT aims to help you alter your negative thoughts, whereas counselling involves talking to a psychologist about yourself to identify the underlying problems relating to your PND.
Self-help therapy for postnatal depression
Self-help tips include talking to your friends and family about your fears, taking up exercise, getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals and making time for yourself. The way you treat your body can have a huge effect on the working of your mind and how you perceive yourself in relation to those around you.
Remember you’re not the only one suffering from PND and you’re not alone.
Community support is equally important when trying to overcome a mental illness. Remember you’re not the only one suffering from PND and you’re not alone. Check for local support groups in your area or contact nationwide charities that offer advice; they usually organise meetings and events where you can meet other parents with PND.
Online support forums may also help. You can read other parents' personal accounts of how they’re dealing with the condition and even chat anonymously about how the illness is affecting your life.
At PANDAS, we offer all these peer support options. Our charity is run by fully trained and supervised volunteers, who have a genuine experience of these illnesses.
For more information please visit our website: www.pandasfoundation.org.uk
Our helpline is 0843 28 98 401* and is open 7 days a week from 9am –8pm.
*The PANDAS Helpline is for offering information, support and guidance. We are unable to diagnose a mental health illness or issue medical or legal advice. If you have, or suspect you may have, a health problem you should consult your doctor or specialist nurse.
Calls cost 5p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.