Post natal depression (PND) is a type of depression experienced by women who have recently given birth. Unlike the “baby blues”, which is very common in the first few days following childbirth, the symptoms of post natal depression typically develop around four to six weeks after the baby is born. The post natal depression signs and symptoms will vary between different women and many can easily be attributed to the stress of having a new baby in the house, but it is important to recognize that post natal depression is a serious illness that requires treatment as soon as possible.
Many women are unaware they are suffering from post natal depression and it is often up to family and friends to take the initiative and persuade the woman to seek medical help. All too often, many of the symptoms of post natal depression are put down to exhaustion, but like other forms of depression, PND is a treatable condition and should be recognized as such.
What are the post natal depression signs and symptoms to look out for?
Signs and symptoms of post natal depression include the following:
- Low mood and irritability lasting for a week or longer
- No interest in anything, including the baby
- Feelings of guilt
- Inability to cope
- Sleep problems and exhaustion
- Loss of appetite
- Panic attacks
Since many of these symptoms are likely to affect most new mums at some point after childbirth, it is easy to overlook signs of depression, but it is important to remember that post natal depression generally lasts longer than a few days and is far more than a short period of feeling tired and fed up when the baby is not sleeping at night. Unfortunately, many new mothers fail to recognition that they are suffering from depression. Many women also find it difficult to discuss their feelings with their partner or family because they are worried (wrongly) that the symptoms of PND mean that they do love their baby enough.
What are the serious post natal depression signs and symptoms to look out for?
In more serious cases of post natal depression, women can experience suicidal thoughts or fantasies about harming their baby. In rare cases, post natal depression can develop into post natal psychosis, an extremely severe type of depression affecting new mothers. Post natal psychosis results from hormonal and chemical changes in the body and the symptoms include hallucinations, delusional behavior, irrational and suicidal thoughts.
Post natal depression can affect as many as 1 in 10 women after childbirth, but it can also affect male partners. Having a new baby in the house is a stressful time for both parents and many people find it very difficult to adjust. However, it is important to be aware that post natal depression is an illness causes by a hormonal imbalance rather than your inability to cope with a new baby. There are plenty of treatments available once the condition has been diagnosed and with the right help, post natal depression is something that you can quickly recover from.