It’s really important to do something if you think you have postnatal depression. Firstly and most importantly, never judge yourself as being weak. If you’re coping with this debilitating illness, you’re much stronger than you realise. Find ways to overcome it as soon as possible and know that it does get better.
The first thing to do is help yourself. Look at the areas in your life that need attention. Diet, time for yourself, support from others and prioritising the important things in life are all areas to look at. My book, “Why Perinatal Depression Matters”, has some tips and ideas of what you can do to help yourself.
What treatments are available for postnatal depression?
Treatments available include medication and talking therapies, both of which have been shown to help. You may benefit from counselling or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). They should be available on the NHS through either an onsite GP counsellor or the IAPT scheme (Improvement in Access to Psychological Therapies). Talk it through with your GP. If they offer you medication and you would rather have a talking treatment, then stick to your guns and tell them that.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore postnatal depression.
Within the NHS there are also specialist services set up specifically to help women with postnatal depression. This is a postcode lottery, so you might have a gold star service near you, or you may not. Ask your GP or Health Visitor if they have any perinatal mental health services in your area.
Alternative therapies for postnatal depression
There are plenty of amazing voluntary groups to help you, both online, on the phone and in person. Google “help with postnatal depression” in your area, and see what comes up, or, if you don’t have the energy, ask a loved one to do it for you. You’ll be amazed how much help is out there.
If you have the financial means, think about using it to prioritise your recovery. Relaxation is a great antidote to stress and depression. Many alternative therapies are very valuable in helping your stressed system to unwind, such as massage, acupuncture and aromatherapy. If you’d like a talking therapy, there are plenty of private counsellors, therapists and hypnotherapists who will be able to help. If you feel you have been traumatised by your birth, consider going to a therapist who can treat it using EMDR or the Rewind Technique, both of which have been shown to be effective in treating trauma.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore it. A woman who was traumatised 37 years ago contacted me last week. I’m looking forward to helping her. Time is too precious, and you matter too much to just hope it goes away. Find help and support, and if at first you don’t succeed, try somewhere or someone else. Help is out there, and plenty of it. Good luck.
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”.