Postpartum Depression



Many of us experience postpartum/postnatal depression after child birth. Our mental health can be compromised and, particularly because this is such a crucial stage of family life, this can be a major cause for concern. If there is a possibility that you might be suffering from postpartum depression, seeking the right help and support is vital.

Of course, it is normal to feel tired and emotional after the birth of a child, it is a big, life-changing event. Particularly if this is your first child, the period directly after the birth will be one of adjustment and finding your parental feet. It is also quite normal for us to feel anxious about our new baby, constantly checking on their well-being and worrying a lot about minor issues. However, it is worth investigating whether postpartum depression is the cause if you are feeling particularly stressed or low. Postpartum depression is quite common and can occur directly after childbirth, or up to 12 months following the birth. It can occur after miscarriages and, although it usually affects women, it can also occur in men. Postpartum depression has been linked to changes in hormones, stress and exhaustion following the birth, and the impact of such a life changing event. Whatever the cause, the effects of postpartum depression are serious and parents experiencing symptoms should seek help and advice.

How Postpartum Depression Can Harm Us

Postpartum depression can be very harmful. Symptoms vary between individuals, but some repeatedly reported feelings include: constant tiredness and trouble sleeping, lack of appetite, lack of energy, anxiety, feeling dejected or emotional, low self-esteem, feeling incapable of taking care of the new child, and feeling ashamed about struggling to cope. These feelings can have a large impact on us, and prevent us enjoying what should be a happy (if a little scary and exhausting) period. Postpartum depression affects our confidence, often specifically about motherhood. This is very damaging. If the depression becomes severe, it can affect the actual ability of the mother to care for the child. Avoidance of certain tasks, and the belief that she is incapable, can cause the mother to feel a distance from her new baby or the lack of a bond. Some women withdraw socially, and become isolated in their depression. This can be extremely harmful, and some mothers consider running away or even suicide. If any of the symptoms mentioned here ring a bell with you please seek help in order to feel better and prevent the problems from worsening.

How Postpartum Depression Affects the Family

Of course, postpartum depression has a deep effect on the family. Mothers sometimes withdraw from their own parents or extended family members because they feel ashamed about their abilities as a mother. In other cases, women grow dependent on their families, as they feel inept at taking care of the baby alone. Both of these outcomes are unhealthy, and have a negative effect on relationships and the mother’s self-esteem. Postpartum depression also affects the relationship between the mother and father. Tensions and frustrations can arise, perhaps because of a lack of understanding, or just the stress and exhaustion of parenting. The diagnosis of depression can often help a lot to further understanding and patience within a relationship. In terms of the mother’s relationship with her child, it is important to remember that the child is very young, and if treatment is sought for the depression and recovery begins, the child is highly unlikely to have any memory of the mother’s problems. Women suffering from depression often worry about the lack of a bond between her and her child. However, in reality most cases of postpartum depression do not have an impact on the long term relationship between mother and child. Only if the depression is severe and the victim does not seek help will it affect the relationship with the child in the future.

How Therapy Can Help

If postpartum depression might be affecting you, it is crucial that you find support and advice. Talking to a therapist or counsellor can be a huge relief, and an opportunity to discuss feelings with someone impartial and who will not judge. Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed about getting help, these worries could be attributed to depression. We all need help from time to time, and early motherhood is a particularly tiring and stressful period in which counselling and therapy can be put to good use. Therapy can help you to gain confidence and will ease fears about motherhood. Whether you are experiencing a small number of symptoms, or your depression has grown more severe, it is time to get help. With the help of a professional you can fully recover and begin to excel at, and thoroughly enjoy, motherhood. For the sake of your new child and your own mental health, find a counsellor or therapist to help you along the way.

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