You have been waiting for the longest time, your baby has finally arrived, but for some reason, you are feeling low and overwhelmed.
Many women experience the baby blues in the first few days after having a baby. The baby blues usually only last 2 to 3 days and you might feel teary, anxious and moody during that time. Having the support from your spouse, family and friends will help to get you through these challenging times.
If these feelings lasted beyond these early days and got worse, it may be a sign of developing depression. What are the symptoms of postnatal depression?
There are many signs that one may be struggling with postnatal depression. The common ones include:
- Being moody or having a very low mood.
- Mood swings most of the times.
- Feeling inadequate and a failure as a mum.
- Having a sense of hopelessness about the future.
- Feeling tired, empty, sad and teary.
- Feeling guilty, ashamed or worthless.
- Feeling anxious or panicky.
- Having trouble sleeping, sleep for too long or have nightmares.
- Worrying excessively about their baby.
- Feeling scared of being alone or going out.
In some cases, women may experience thoughts about leaving their family or concerned that their partner may reject them. They could also have ideas about self-harm or harming their partner or baby. In situations like this, you should seek professional help straight away.
It is also common to experience symptoms of anxiety at the same time as depression.
Can postnatal depression be prevented?
For most women, tackling postnatal depression at home is the first step. Yet, depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may be offered additional support to help you feel better faster.
The following are suggestions that may help to keep you well.
- Don’t try to be ‘superwoman’. Try to do less and make sure that you don’t get over-tired. And rest more
- Do make friends with other women who are pregnant or have just had a baby. It may be more challenging to make new friends if you get PND.
- Do find someone you can talk to.
- Do go to antenatal classes. If you have a partner, take them with you. If not, take a friend or relative.
- Don’t stop antidepressant medication during pregnancy without advice.
- Do keep in touch with your GP and your health visitor if you have had depression before. You can recognise symptoms of depression in pregnancy or PND early.
- Do make sure that you have treatment for depression in pregnancy. Consult with your doctor and try talking therapy sessions or taking medication recommended by your doctor.
- Do accept offers of help from friends and family.
- Do tell others how you are feeling. You may be surprised how many people feel or have felt the same way as you.
How Can Partners, Family And Friends Help?
- Try to understand what postnatal depression is. Check with the health visitor or GP if you need more information.
- It’s helpful to spend time with someone who is depressed. It is essential to listen and to offer encouragement and support. Do reassure her that she will get better.
- Be very mindful of the language you use – this is an illness, not something someone can ‘snap out of’, ‘get on with’ or cure by ‘thinking positively’.
- Take your partner, relative or friend seriously if she talks about not wanting to live or about harming herself. Make sure she seeks help urgently.
- Encourage her, relative and friend to get the help and treatment she needs. If you have any worries about treatment, discuss these with the doctor.
- Do all you can to help her with the practical things like feeding and changing the baby, grocery shopping, cooking or housework.
- If this is a first baby, you may feel pushed to one side, both by the baby and her needs. Try not to feel resentful. She needs your help and support.
People with depression may not recognise or acknowledge that they’re in depression mode. They may not be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression. If you suspect that your friend or loved one has postpartum depression or is developing postpartum psychosis, help them seek medical attention immediately. Don’t wait and hope for improvement.
Disclaimer: This resource/content provides information, not advice. It is not intended to and does not, amount to advice which you should rely on. You must therefore obtain the relevant professional or specialist advice before taking or refraining from, any action based on the information in this resource. If you have any further medical enquiries or experiencing any medical conditions, please consult or seek immediate medical attention from a doctor or other professional healthcare provider.
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