postnatal depression:
knowing the signs and getting help

Postnatal depression is more common than you’d think, affecting as many as 1 in 10 women. After the emotional rollercoaster of pregnancy, it’s perhaps no wonder some mums struggle after childbirth. Fortunately there’s plenty of help out there.

what is postnatal depression

Postnatal depression is a disorder that can affect new parents. It can be caused by the change in lifestyle that comes with a new arrival. Sleepless nights and the energy that 24-hour care of a little one takes can get to the best of us. After pregnancy, your hormones are all over the place too. Progesterone levels during pregnancy are 50 times non-pregnant levels for example. If you’re breastfeeding your body releases prolactin and oxytocin, which have also been linked to postnatal depression.

how common is it

Postnatal depression is very common – you’re certainly not alone.

  • 80% of mums have the ‘post baby blues’
  • 50% continue to feel low afterwards
  • 1 in 10 women suffer from postnatal depression
  • 1 in 25 men suffer from postnatal depression

the post baby blues

Most mums feel down after giving birth. The ‘post baby blues’ usually start soon after giving birth. This isn’t as serious as postnatal depression and is usually caused by prolactin and oxytocin being released when you start breastfeeding. You might feel weepy and tired but it should pass within a few days.

postnatal depression symptoms

If the post baby blues don’t pass, look out for these signs:

  • feeling inadequate or having low self esteem
  • being constantly weepy or lethargic
  • feeling no enjoyment in life
  • trouble sleeping
  • feelings of guilt
  • panic attacks

how to get help

If you’re worried that you’re experiencing postnatal depression, don’t suffer in silence, let your health advisor or GP know how you’ve been feeling. They’ll be able to give you a range of help, from anti-depressants to therapy. They’ll also help you monitor your mental health to stop your condition getting any worse.

helping yourself

In addition to talking with your GP, there are a few other ways you can help yourself:

  • postnatal depression help begins at home. Talk to your partner, family and friends about what you're experiencing
  • perhaps join a class to meet other new mums. They may know exactly what you’re going through
  • try to eat regularly and get some exercise. Exercise releases endorphins that can help prevent PND, even a brisk walk will do