Coping with Postnatal Depression: What are the Signs and Who Can Help?

Postnatal depression is a form of depression that can develop 1 month to a year after giving birth. It is perfectly normal to develop ‘baby blues’ after the birth of a baby but when it lasts longer than a week it can lead to postnatal depression. Roughly 1 in every 7 Australian women are affected by postnatal depression at some stage following childbirth.  While there hasn’t been a scientifically proven cause, some theories suggest that the physical changes to your body, as well as the mental toll taken from high levels of hormone changes, are large contributing factors.

It is important to be able to identify the early signs of postnatal depression as they can often be quite subtle, and if not confronted, can lead to a serious effect on the mind. So, what are the symptoms?

–          Having a very low mood

–          Feeling inadequate and/or a failure as a mother

–          Having a sense of hopelessness about the future

–          Feeling guilty, ashamed or worthless

–          Feeling anxious or panicky

–          Having trouble sleeping, sleeping in or having nightmares

–          Worrying excessively about the baby

–          Feeling unsociable

In some more intense scenarios, mothers may feel like leaving their family or harming them. Please contact a mental wellbeing professional if any of these thoughts arise.

If you or someone you know has recently given birth and has consistently felt any of these, it may be sign that they need some extra support. Postnatal Depression should be diagnosed and managed by a trained healthcare professional. There are a few different support options available if you are diagnosed with Postnatal Depression, including:

  • Counselling: A good way to talk through any feelings that the mother may be experiencing. It also helps to speak to an impartial party who can rationalise any abnormal thoughts
  • Psychotherapy: This can help to create coping strategies for stress and provide a positive environment where a mother can talk about her experiences or what has been causing stress
  • Group Treatment: Provides a supportive network of other mothers who may be experiencing the same feelings or stresses. It’s a great way to show mums that they aren’t alone and that it can be a normal process of having a baby
  • Medication Such as Antidepressants: There are many kinds of antidepressants which work on the brain in different ways. The common theme across all antidepressants is their ability to stabilise moods. It is important to note that antidepressants do not work for everyone, however than can help to equalise your thoughts

It is also very important to make sure you have a strong support base of friends and family who can help you through this difficult time.