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Postnatal Depression Symptoms and Information

  • Date : 2009-04-29 : Rev. 2017-08-27
  • Thomas C. Weiss : Disabled World
  • Synopsis : Information on Postnatal Depression PND that approximately ten percent of new mothers experience a child is born.

Main Document

Postnatal depression is something that approximately ten-percent of new mothers experience, although as many as twenty-seven percent of mothers with children under the age of one may experience it. Many of these women say they have received some form of treatment for Postnatal Depression (PND), which is more serious than the baby blues.

Postnatal depression is not the same thing as the, 'baby blues,' which can begin a couple of days after a child is born. The baby blues can make mothers feel miserable and weepy, or worry about either the baby or themselves. They may feel tired or on edge, and these things can be caused by changes in hormone levels which happen after a child is born. The baby blues usually disappear within a day or so.

Postnatal depression is something that approximately ten-percent of new mothers experience, although as many as twenty-seven percent of mothers with children under the age of one may experience it. Many of these women say they have received some form of treatment for Postnatal Depression (PND), which is more serious than the baby blues. While other women who experience the baby blues recover and move on in life and motherhood, women who have PND often become increasingly miserable and anxious. It may be that they experienced depression prior to the birth of their child and that the depression has not gone away. For other women, PND begins weeks or possibly months after the birth of their child. They may have been enjoying motherhood, looking after their child, while slowly becoming increasingly depressed until they reached a point of crisis.

Symptoms of Postnatal Depression

Presentation of a few of these symptoms does not mean that a person necessarily has Postnatal depression; motherhood is not an easy thing. Mothers who are experiencing a number of these symptoms may have Postnatal depression, and should consult a doctor. Symptoms of Postnatal depression may include feeling:

  • Tearful
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Unable to enjoy yourself
  • Guilty and very ready to blame yourself
  • That you have lost your sense of humor
  • Consistently exhausted and unable to sleep
  • Unable to cope; things easily get on top of you
  • As if your baby is a stranger and not really yours.
  • Irritable, snapping at your partner or other children
  • As if life is not worth living and you have nothing to look forward to
  • Miserable the majority of the time and especially bad in the mornings and/or evenings
  • Worried about your own health, possibly frightened that you have some dreadful illness
  • Very anxious about the baby, constantly seeking reassurance from health professionals that your child is all right.

Women who have Postnatal depression may also experience:

  • Low energy levels
  • Memory difficulties
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Either loss of appetite or over-eating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Early morning wakefulness.

Risk Factors for Postnatal Depression:

Medical science does not understand why some women are more susceptible to PND than others. A person's biochemistry may make them more prone to depression. There are some things that increase the risk of Postnatal depression; these include:

  • Prior history of depression
  • Experiencing depression while pregnant
  • A troubled birth experience
  • Loss of the woman's mother when she was a child
  • Lack of either a supportive partner or family members living close by
  • Premature birth or ill health of the child
  • Serious financial problems
  • Housing difficulties
  • Serious life troubles
  • A recent death of someone close

Treatment of Postnatal Depression

In two studies that were performed, antidepressant medications were initiated within twenty-four hours of delivery in women who had a history of at least one episode of postnatal depression. The first study involved fifty-one participants, and found that the medication, 'Nortriptyline,' was no more effective than a placebo in the prevention of a recurrence of postpartum major depressive disorder. The second trial that was performed produced a report which stated that the medication, 'Sertraline,' was more effective that a placebo in the prevention of a recurrence of postpartum major depression. Out of the fourteen women who took Sertraline, only one of them experienced a recurrence. Of the eight women who took a placebo, half experienced a recurrence, and the time before the recurrence was longer in the women who had taken Sertraline. The adverse affects experienced by the women who had taken Sertraline involved headaches in two of the women, hypomania in one woman, and withdrawal in three of the women. Symptoms of dizziness and drowsiness were also reported more often in the women who had taken Sertraline.

Antidepressant medications could also be more likely to prevent postnatal depression if the medication has been used successfully to treat prior episodes of depression in the person involved. There has been some concern expressed regarding the use of antidepressant medications when women are breastfeeding, although there is no evidence pertaining to the extent to which infants are exposed to the medications through breast milk, or the long-term effects they may have on infants. A number of women mistakenly believe that antidepressant medications are addictive; this is not true.

The main issue surrounding these forms of medications is that people do not take them appropriately. Antidepressants have to be taken as prescribed. The medications often take a couple of weeks before they start to work and make a person feel better. It takes time for the medication to build up in the blood stream; people many times have to take them for a period of months. Stopping them before they take effect presents the potential for symptoms of depression to return.

Counseling and other forms of talk therapy can help women who are experiencing postnatal depression as well. A doctor can refer you to a counselor or other form of healthcare professional who is trained to work with postnatal depression. Talking with family members and friends may help too.

Family and Friends

If a family member is experiencing postnatal depression, you might be surprised by the change you witness in her. You may even feel depressed yourself. It is important to speak to a doctor who can explain postnatal depression to you, as well as advise you concerning the forms of support that are available. Recognizing that postnatal depression is a real issue; one that there is assistance for, is something that can help everyone involved. Shared knowledge and information about postnatal depression can help the person experiencing it, as well as family members and friends.

There are some things that family members and friends can do to help a loved one who is experiencing postnatal depression. These things include:

  • Remind her that she is going to get better
  • Stay with her if she is frightened of being on her own
  • Ensure that she goes to her counseling appointments
  • Make sure that she takes her medications as prescribed
  • Do not tell her to, "pull herself together." She would if she could!
  • Go with her to the doctor if she is reluctant to go on her own, or might otherwise not go
  • If you are her partner, focus on her as your partner rather than as the mother of your child.
  • Help her with household tasks and with the baby, but don't take the baby over completely
  • If she is unhappy about taking medications, encourage her to talk to her doctor about alternatives

Helping Yourself

One of the best things you can do is pursue a healthy diet. If you have no appetite eat small, regular meals. Be sure to eat breakfast. Try to eat carbohydrates that give you energy such as cereals, pasta, breads, bananas, and rice. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. If a chocolate bar cheers you up - have one; but do not snack on chocolate and sweets all day long.

Make an attempt to get as much rest as you can. Relax and doze if you cannot. If someone can care for your baby in the morning or afternoon, go to bed, have a warm drink, put on some music and relax. Give yourself time and space to recover. Do not overburden yourself with chores that do not need to be done, or make major decisions. Reward yourself when opportunity arises.

Will This Happen With My Next Child?

Potentially; a history of depression is one of the things that may predict postnatal depression. There are also a number of women who have experienced postnatal depression with one baby, yet have not with others. Planning means of coping should you experience postnatal depression again and putting support systems in place is something you will be better prepared to do. You will also be better at spotting symptoms of postnatal depression and be able to get to a doctor sooner.

If you become pregnant again, make attempts to spend nine months focusing on caring for yourself and your baby, accepting all the help you are offered. Get fit and reduce your stress levels. There are some doctors who believe that a mother who has regular progesterone injections after giving birth to a baby have a reduced risk of postnatal depression. There is no strong evidence to support this belief, but you may wish to discuss it with your doctor.

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