Giving birth is a very stressful and physically demanding experience. The change in role from being responsible for yourself to being completely responsible for another human being can be very challenging and this transition can lead to significant emotional distress, especially if you are away from your family and normal support structures.
Consequently, many women experience feeling down, tearfulness and anxiety in the first couple of weeks after giving birth. This is often referred to as “baby blues” and should resolve after two weeks.
However, in more than 10% of women this can progress to postnatal depression, which can start any time up to a year after giving birth. Symptoms of postnatal depression can include:
Difficulty bonding with your baby
Feeling down for most of the day for weeks on end
Feeling as if you are not a good enough mother and feelings of guilt
Trouble with getting to sleep or waking up early and then not going back to sleep
Tiredness all the time
Nothing gives you any enjoyment any more
Feeling that things will remain like this and hopelessness about the future
Thoughts of harming your child
Feeling that your child might be better off without you
Concentration problems and inability to focus
Withdrawing from your friends and family and spending increasing amounts of time alone
These symptoms have a very gradual onset and therefore you might not be aware you are suffering from postnatal depression.
There is effective treatment available. Depending on the severity of depression, you may either need treatment with Talking Therapy (Psychologist) or with medication, in which case you would need to see a Psychiatrist. When you are feeling down, you sometimes get the feeling that nothing will get better. You will recover from your depression. After thorough assessment with a Psychiatrist, he or she will work with you to make a treatment plan with support and follow-up until you have recovered.
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