Written by Brisbane Counselling Centre Psychologist, Natascha Madden.
“Postnatal depression” or “postpartum depression” is the name given to depression that is experienced after your baby’s birth. It can occur from one month after your baby is born, up to a year from your baby’s day of birth.
“Baby blues” v’s postnatal depression
Postnatal depression is different from the “baby blues”. The baby blues tend to hang around for 2 to 3 days after you’ve had a baby. During this time, you can feel teary and/or moody. However, a supportive partner and family/friends can usually get you through the baby blues. It’s not a condition you experience long-term.
In contrast, if feelings of moodiness, worry, or teariness continue for a month or more, this may be a sign that you’re experiencing postnatal depression.
Postnatal depression v’s depressed feelings
Each person’s experience of postnatal depression is different, so what you feel may be very different to another mother you know.
One key indicator, however, is time.
Many of the symptoms of postnatal depression can be present for any new mum perhaps for a day here or there. But this isn’t considered to constitute depression. Depression exists when these symptoms have lasted for at least two weeks or more and you’ve experienced little or no relief from them.
Symptoms & signs of postnatal depression
The following signs and symptoms are all common in mothers experiencing postnatal depression. Importantly, not all these symptoms have to be present for you to be considered for a diagnosis of postnatal depression.
Read the list below and see if any of these symptoms sound familiar:
- Feeling overwhelmed – this may include thoughts that becoming a parent is too much for you or that perhaps you shouldn’t have had a baby
- Not feeling a bond with your baby like you’ve heard other parents talk about – for example, feeling that there’s no “magic” like you expected
- Feeling guilty for not enjoying being a mum or being “successful” at your new role – this often includes thoughts that maybe your baby would be better off without you
- Feelings of confusion and worry – these feelings may or may not be about your baby
- No motivation to get anything done – for instance, a lack of motivation to go out and socialise, do chores, or participate in activities you normally enjoy
- Finding yourself worrying a lot about a whole range of things – this can include worrying about your baby, but may also include worry about other things
- Feelings of anger or irritation – for example, you may experience feelings of rage that you can’t control
- Feelings of resentment towards others – this includes feeling of resentment towards your baby, partner or spouse, friends, family, and even people that don’t have a baby
- Deep sadness
- Crying uncontrollably – including crying for what may look or feel like no reason
- Feelings of emptiness or numbness
- Trouble sleeping or oversleeping – this includes either sleeping a lot or experiencing difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Change in appetite – either a loss of appetite or an increase in your appetite
- Trouble concentrating and focusing
- Feelings of helplessness – such as feeling as though things aren’t going to get any better
- Feeling like you’re going “crazy” or feeling like something just isn’t right – often when you can’t put your finger on what the “something” is
- Thoughts about harming yourself or your baby
What should you do about it?
If any number of these symptoms sound familiar to you, it’s important to get help as quickly as you can. There’s no need for you to continue to suffer in this way, as postnatal depression can be treated.
There is hope!
The sooner you reach out for help, the sooner you can work towards recovery.
So, what are you waiting for?
Contact your doctor or call Brisbane Counselling Centre today on (07) 3831 4452 to book an appointment to speak with a psychologist who cares and understands the pain you are experiencing.