What new parents should know about postpartum depression
Postpartum depression is a depression that some people get in the year after birth. It is rare and not something you need to worry about, but something to be aware of, so you know when to seek help should you or someone close to you start to feel any symptoms. This gives you the opportunity to catch it and seek help as soon as possible.
Postpartum depression or baby blues?
Having a baby should feel exhilarating, right? A new life created by you as you give your biggest ever contribution to the circle of life. I’d like to give a big "nuh-uh-uh" here because having a baby is also exhausting and frightening. As you navigate the change in life that some perceive as a big shock, you might feel anxious and sad. Others around you do not always understand what happened, as your mood swings as wide as the pirate swing at Disneyland.
Some people feel irritable or overwhelmed and crying, whether tears of happiness or sadness, become an everyday thing. It’s often difficult to work out whether the difficulty in sleeping comes from having a newborn that wakes a lot, or depression. All these things are normal in the first couple of weeks after birth and ideally, pass quite quickly (within a few weeks). If they stick around or appear randomly at some point further down the line, it is more likely depression than the baby blues.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that happens to some new parents after the birth of a baby. Postpartum or postnatal depression affects all genders and sometimes begins during pregnancy. Another title that includes pregnancy is perinatal depression. Depression that occurs in the first year of your baby’s life is postpartum, postnatal or perinatal depression. Postnatal depression is as serious as any other form of depression.
Symptoms of postpartum depression
If you have postpartum depression, some things you might experience are as follows:
- Crying for a reason or for no reason.
- Feeling separate from your baby, as if bonding is a struggle.
- Not wanting to spend time around friends and family. They may see it as withdrawing.
- Extreme tiredness and/or limited energy (difficult to tell if your baby changes your previous sleep schedule).
- Changes in sleep that don’t align with your baby’s needs. Eg. trouble sleeping when you have the opportunity or sleeping too much.
- Mood swings.
- Changes in appetite.
- Lack of interest or joy in activities you enjoyed previously.
- Feeling hopeless or worthless. You might also feel shame and guilt or feel that you are inadequate and not a good enough parent.
- Difficulty in thinking, concentrating, or making decisions. You may also feel restless.
- Intense irritability and anger, repetitive thoughts of death or suicide.
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks.
- Thoughts of hurting your baby or yourself.
Some symptoms of postpartum depression are the same as the baby blues, the main difference is they stick around. If you feel this way and either recognise depression from previous experience or know something is not right, and the symptoms remain for more than a couple of weeks, please reach out for help.
Postpartum depression help
Your doctor will guide you on the NHS services for depression, which consist of talking therapies and medication. The NHS offers various therapies in the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme, but there is sometimes a long wait to access the support you need. Your doctor can prescribe you medication, which is a short-term solution for some people and a long-term solution for others.
There are charities that offer support, specifically PANDAS, who have a free helpline, text, and email support. If you feel you need further support, there are many therapies offered privately that you cannot access via the NHS or through a charity.
Hypnotherapy will offer you a safe, supportive environment to organise and process your thoughts. A hypnotherapist experienced in mindfulness will help you utilise the mindful way of living to feel more content. Your hypnotherapist will not try to change you, but will help you navigate your way through the darkness and despair of depression as you find your way to feeling like yourself.