Do I have postnatal depression? Here’s what it is:

If you’re thinking “do I have postnatal depression” then let us first explain what it is.

Postnatal depression is a form of depression that many parents experience following the birth of their child. It’s a common issue that affects more than one out of every ten women during the first year of giving birth. It can influence fathers and partners as well.

All parents go through a period of saturation as they try to handle the huge changes a baby brings. For most people, this time period will be temporary and not overly distressing. Many women experience negative emotions in the first few days after having a baby. This phase is called “baby blues” and they usually only last a few weeks and you may feel teary, anxious and moody during that time. When these feelings last beyond these early days and continue to get worse, it may be a sign of developing depression. 

Factors enhancing postnatal depression:

The exact causes are not known for having postnatal depression, these are some contributing effects:

  • Physical Changes: Even a relatively simple birth can be an exhausting experience for a woman’s body. Furthermore, the rapid decline in pregnancy hormones has an effect on brain chemicals (neurotransmitters). Depression may be compounded by the lack of sleep and discomfort.
  • Emotional Changes: Adapting to parenthood comes with a lot of emotional shifts. A new mother must deal with her baby’s frequent demands, a different dynamic in her partner’s relationship, and the lack of her own freedom. Such transitions are difficult at the best of times, but they’re much more difficult while a woman is still healing physically from childbirth and dealing with sleep deprivation.
  • Social Changes: A new mother faces a lot of demands and expectations from society, which she may feel obliged to fulfill. She may find it difficult to maintain contact with her friends and colleagues. It can be difficult to adjust to life on a single salary.

What are the signs ?

There are several measures that someone might be suffering from postnatal depression. The following are some of the more best known:

  • Having low mood all the time
  • Lack of enjoyment 
  • Loss of interest in the wider world 
  • Withdrawing from contact with other people
  • Feeling inadequate and a failure as a mother
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby
  • Feeling anxious or panicky
  • Anxiety, panic attacks or heart palpitations
  • Having trouble sleeping, sleep for too long or have nightmares

Since postnatal depression may come about gradually, many women are unaware they have it. Women may have thoughts of abandoning their families or be concerned that their spouse would abandon them. They may also have thoughts about self-harm or harming their partner or child. In such cases, you can seek clinical assistance right away.

Postnatal depression and relationships

Even when the partner is supportive, caring, and compassionate, postnatal depression can cause a strain on any relationship. Many couples who are suffering from this depression believe that their partnership is irreversibly harmed. That is why it is important to ask for help. In the phase of postnatal depression it is a good idea to postpone any big life decisions.

Getting help

If you’re still wondering “do I have postnatal depression?”, don’t try to solve the issue on your own, hoping that it will go away. Many health visitors have been qualified to identify postnatal depression and are trained with strategies to support. If they are unable to assist, they would be able to refer you to anyone who can. If you suspect your partner is having issues, encourage them to seek support. You can also visit our partner betterheşp for counseling to a licensed therapist.

Check out “The Postpartum Depression Workbook: Strategies to Overcome” for more information about the postnatal depression and how to deal with it: