It is common to experience the “baby blues” after giving birth. Up to 80% of mothers experience this. The “baby blues” is characterised by low mood, feeling tearful and anxiety. This usually lasts approximately two weeks and then subsides. Postnatal depression is when these feelings occur within one year after giving birth and last for a longer period of time. It is not just mothers that are affected, fathers can also experience postnatal depression. Up to around 20% of mothers and 10% of fathers develop Postnatal Depression.
Here are the common features of postnatal depression:
- Low mood
- Lack of energy
- Poor concentration
- Self-critical thinking
- Lack of confidence
- Lack of enjoyment
- Low motivation to do things
- Difficulties bonding with your baby
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
What Increases the Likelihood of Developing Postnatal Depression?
There are various factors that are believed to contribute to an individual becoming vulnerable to developing Postnatal Depression, including:
- Experiencing depression before or during your pregnancy
- Having difficulties in your relationship
- Being isolated and having little support around you
- Stressful life events
- Having a traumatic birth
Please note that experiencing the above does not guarantee you will suffer from Postnatal Depression, they are just known to increase the risk of developing it.
What Causes Postnatal Depression?
It is not known for certain what causes postnatal depression. However, it is believed that biological (e.g. hormonal changes), physical (e.g. lack of sleep), social (e.g. becoming isolated) and emotional (e.g. worrying you’re not being a good mother) changes play a role.
Therapy for Postnatal Depression
Many people experiencing Postnatal Depression worry that they are going mad and that they are a bad parent. Through therapy we can help you to make sense of your struggles and support you to address this thinking and learn that you are not to blame. We can explore with you what things may be keeping your difficulties going in the here and now as well as what things in your past may have played a role. We can support you to make changes and work through your difficulties to help improve how you feel.
Some people can be hesitant to reach out for support as they worry if they were to tell another person, including a therapist, how they are feeling, their child(ren) will be taken into care. As described above, Postnatal Depression is a very common experience and with good support it is something that can be overcome.