Depression is more than just feeling low, or having a bad day or couple of days, it is a disorder that affects the body, mood and thoughts. Depression can take on physical traits, it can affect sleep and eating patterns and the way you feel about yourself and things in general. It isn’t something that you can just pull yourself out of and it can last weeks, months and even years if left without treatment.
Any-one can be affected by depression, it doesn’t discriminate between age, gender, ethnicity or social status, although women are know to experience depression twice as often as men. Many hormonal factors may contribute to this statistic such as menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy and menopause. Depression can also have a massive impact on a persons life, adversely affecting relationships with family and friends and the sufferers working life.
Post Natal Depression
Postnatal depression (PND) is something more than the baby blues, which is experienced typically between day 3 and day 5 after baby’s arrival, coinciding with the hormonal changes when breast milk starts to come in. Mothers can feel weepy and low, but it usually subsides after a week or two. All new mums can feel overwhelmed by the arrival of a new baby, with all the responsibility it brings and the changing hormones.
Postnatal depression however, affects approximately 10-15% of mothers and 10% of fathers and can come as soon as baby arrives, take a few weeks or even be months later. Symptoms of Postnatal depression are low mood, loss of appetite, sleep problems, anxiety, inability to look forward to anything, lack of motivation, extreme tiredness and difficulty in bonding with baby. High anxiety may lead to panic attacks which are very common with PND but also very frightening.
Having someone to talk to who can help make you feel supported without judging can bring enormous relief. This could be a health visitor, a community psychiatric nurse or a counsellor. There are also local groups for new mothers that your health visitor should be able to give you information about and meeting other mums in the same position will help you to feel less alone.
Taking care of yourself is important, though you may feel this is an impossible task with a new baby in the family, but this is where you need to lean on people if it is possible. Get a family member or close friend to watch baby for an hour whilst you catch up on some rest. Eating properly is also difficult but necessary. You may be lacking in vitamin B, calcium or magnesium.
The housework can take a backseat for a while as well, no one expects a new mum to have a spotless home. When baby sleeps, don’t immediately think that you have to start getting jobs done, sleep yourself or try to relax a little. learn some relaxation tecniques.