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What is Post-Natal Depression (PND) or Postpartum Depression(PPD)?

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Developed by one in ten mothers, it really shouldn’t be ignored says DR VASILIOS SILIVISTRIS

About one in ten mothers develop postnatal depression, which is defined as depression suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood and fatigue.

Support and understanding from family and friends can help mothers to recover. Other treatment options include counselling and or antidepressants.

Postnatal depression?

Having a baby is a very emotional experience, you may feel tearful and your mood may feel low, however, there are three causes of low mood after childbirth.

Baby blues

This is very common and almost considered normal. Symptoms include being weepy, irritability, anxiety and feeling low. It usually starts around the third day, but usually goes by the tenth day after childbirth.

Postnatal depression

It usually develops within the first four weeks after childbirth, however; it can start several months following childbirth. Treatment is advised.

Postnatal (puerperal) psychosis

This is uncommon, but a severe form of depression can develop in about one in 1,000 mothers. Fathers may also develop postnatal depression.

 

Symptoms

The symptoms are similar to those that occur with depression at any other time.

They usually include one or more of the following:

Low mood

Lack of motivation to do anything

Tearful and weepy

Irritability

Feelings of guilt, rejection, or inadequacy

Poor concentration

Unable to cope

Mothers may also have thoughts of harming their babies

Around half of the mothers with PND have these thoughts. If things are terrible, mothers may have suicidal ideation nonetheless this is rare.

In addition, mothers may also have less energy, disturbed sleep, poor appetite, and low libido. However, these are common and normal for a while after childbirth, and on their own do not necessarily mean that mothers are depressed.

 

What do you think you should do?

If you do nothing about the depression, you are likely to get better anyway in six to nine months, some people take longer nevertheless, there are several reasons to ask for help:

It is not a sign of weakness to admit that you are depressed.

Feeling depressed can cause problems in your relationships, job, and life in general.

If you are depressed, your relationship with your baby may not be as good as it could be. You may not give as much attention to your baby as you would like to, and as a result, your baby’s development may not be as quick as it should be and developmental problems can persist into adolescence.

 

Causes

The exact cause is not clear. Any mother can develop PND however, mothers are more prone to develop PND just after childbirth. The main cause seems to be stressful events after childbirth such as feelings of isolation, worry, and responsibility for the new baby, et cetera.

Diagnoses

Normally, a doctor, or  the midwife will check for depression in all mothers who have recently given birth.

They may ask the following two questions

During the past month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed, hopeless, and helpless?

In the past month, have you often been bothered by having little interest, or pleasure in doing things?

If you answer yes to either of these questions, they may ask a third question: Is this something you feel you need or want help with?

Therapy

Some studies suggest that counselling over several weeks can help ease PND. Antidepressants are sometimes prescribed for PND, and combined with counselling work very well; most mothers find this mode of treatment very helpful.

 

Dr Vasilios Silivistris (Vasos) is a psychotherapist, counselling practitioner psychotherapycounselling.uk/

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