Since my baby as born I have just been feeling so sad and
unable to cope, and I am hardly able to sleep at all. My
Doctor has diagnosed postnatal depression. I was too embarrassed
to ask about it – please can you give me some information.
Postnatal depression (PND)
is a depressive illness that occurs after having a baby.
It is common for women following childbirth to experience
a 'low' mood period. This can range from a mild and normal
period of mood disturbance ('baby blues'), through to PND
and the most severe and rarest problem (postnatal psychosis).
In fact it is estimated that one in seven mothers experience
post-natal depression of varying severity, usually in the
early months following the birth.
The symptoms are very similar to those seen in 'ordinary'
'low', 'miserable' and ‘tearful’ for no
apparent reason. Being unable to enjoy yourself. This
may be prominent in new mothers who feel that they
are not enjoying having a new baby the way they expected
- Irritability is common. This
may be with other children, the new baby and particularly
with the partner.
- Sleep disturbance is part of
looking after a new baby. However in PND there may
be additional problems of finding it hard to go to
sleep even though you are tired, or waking early in
- Given that looking after a young
baby means having less sleep than usual, it is no
surprise that mothers often feel they have no energy.
This can be even worse in mothers with PND.
- Appetite is sometimes affected,
with mothers not being interested in food. This can
be a particular problem since new mothers need all
the energy they can get to look after their babies.
- Anxiety frequently occurs in
PND. This may take many forms. It may be feeling tense
and 'on edge' all the time. Normal concerns and anxieties
that any mother feels for a new baby may become overwhelming.
In addition mothers may experience 'panic attacks'
which are episodes lasting several minutes when they
feel as if something catastrophic is about to happen
- such as collapsing, having a heart attack or stroke.
These are extremely frightening but they do get better
on their own.
- Depression is often accompanied
by feelings of being 'worthless' and 'hopeless'. These
feelings are common in PND. All mothers are faced
with new and sometimes difficult problems with a new
baby. However, mothers with PND feel all the more
'not able to cope' and unable to see a way through
- When people are
depressed, they sometimes feel that there is no way
out of their problems and that they, and their family,
would be better off dead. Thoughts of suicide are
therefore not uncommon. If you feel this way, it is
important that you talk to somebody about how you
feel, since there are ways out of your difficulties
other than suicide.
Visit the website of the postnatal depression society: http://www.pndsa.co.za for help and support
Postnatal depression - Causes
Postnatal depression - Father
Postnatal depression - Father’s Embarrassment
Postnatal depression - Helping Yourself
Postnatal depression - Predisposition
Postnatal depression - Postnatal depression or baby blues?
Postnatal depression - Treatment