Postnatal Depression, Pregnancy and Postnatal Depression in women

As many as 10-15% of new mothers suffer from a degree of postnatal depression or PND. Although many women are aware of postnatal depression, few know that it is also common to feel depressed during pregnancy. Indeed in about a third of cases of postnatal depression the problem starts during pregnancy. Sadly, some of those afflicted with PND resort to using drugs and alcohol, essentially creating a "numbing" effect. Sometimes, the problem can get so out of hand that Intervention Support becomes the only option. It is important to identify the problem as unchecked it can persist for months.

Causes of Postnatal Depression

Doctors do not really know why postnatal depression occurs. It may be linked to the hormonal changes that occur so abruptly in your body after delivery or a combination of these hormonal changes, emotional stresses and changes in your lifestyle. However, Doctors have identified some women who might be at increased risk of this problem. Women who have previously experienced a problem with a depressive illness have an increased risk of developing postnatal depression. Depression, excessive anxiety and stressful life events during pregnancy are also associated with an increased chance of developing postnatal depression. Complications during and after the pregnancy might also contribute. However, PND can happen to any mother. It can occur even if the whole pregnancy and delivery go smoothly and you have a healthy baby. You may have been looking forward to having a baby for years or months, and be well supported by your partner yet still feel miserable. This does not mean that you are not a good mother or are not thankful that everything went well and that you have a healthy baby, it simply means that you may be suffering from one of the commonest medical conditions that affect new mothers, namely postnatal depression.

Sign and symptoms of postnatal depression or baby blues

Postnatal depression is not usually diagnosed until there has been at least 2 weeks of several of the characteristic symptoms. Although depression, feeling low and unhappy, is probably the most common symptom of PND, there are a number of other symptoms. These include: feeling tearful and crying for no obvious reason or for a reason you would usually consider trivial; feeling irritable with other children and particularly with your partner; lacking self confidence; inappropriate feelings of guilt and worthlessness; difficulty in concentrating or organising things or feeling that minor things you need to do require considerable effort; difficulty in laughing; not smiling; insomnia and sometimes excessive sleeping; marked disturbance in weight and appetite including loss of appetite and comfort eating; waking up feeling exhausted; feeling excessively anxious; recurrent thoughts of death; and sitting for long periods not noticing the time passing.

Treatment of postnatal depression

There are a number of treatments that can improve postnatal depression. The important thing therefore is to recognise the problem and seek help. You should not feel embarrassed or ashamed at confiding in your Doctor or midwife that you feel depressed. Indeed in the weeks after delivery all health care professionals should be looking out for signs of postnatal depression.

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