The birth of a child should be the most joyous experience a new mum can possibly have.
However, this incredible journey can be clouded by feelings of fear and anxiety, depression, doubt and detachment.
If you are struggling with a low mood that won’t shift, or feel disconnected from your baby, others and what’s going on around you, you may be experiencing Postnatal Depression.
The three main postnatal mood changes are known as: baby blues, puerperal psychosis and postnatal depression.
The ‘baby blues’ usually begin shortly after a baby is born [2-4 days] and are considered completely normal. It is very common for new mothers to have crying episodes and feel irritable, lonely, vulnerable and.or weary. Although many new mums find the baby blues quite distressing they are likely to pass relatively quickly with individuals returning to normal within a few weeks.
Puerperal psychosis is the most extreme type of postnatal mood alteration. Puerperal psychosis is quite rare and affects around 1 in 500 new mothers. Symptoms begin soon after birth with the mother usually becoming anxious, mildly confused, unable to sleep and out of touch with reality. Puerperal psychosis typically requires hospital care.
Postnatal depression tends to fall somewhere between the baby blues and puerperal psychosis. Although there are many different estimates about the number of new mothers who are affected by postnatal depression, the HSE states that it may affect up to 1 in 6 [15%] new mothers. Symptoms may start as baby blues, but over time worsen becoming most obvious when the baby is 4-6 months old.
Common symptoms might include:
- Panic attacks
- Sleep problems
- Obsessive behaviour
- Lack of appetite or overindulgence
Despite substantial research on the subject, the exact cause of postnatal depression is unknown. Biological factors, personal history, birth experience expectations, relationship strains and changes in lifestyle that come about as a result of a newborn baby have all been suggested as contributing to postnatal depression. Postnatal depression can last for longer than three months and even years if not treated – the earlier it is recognised, diagnosed and treated, the faster an individual is likely to recover.
At MyMind, our team of mental health professionals are trained to help individuals overcome and manage postnatal depression and its symptoms.