Postnatal depression affects about 13 percent of mothers, and can occur at any time during the first year. Some women with postnatal depression have also experienced depression during their pregnancy.
Postnatal depression is more severe than “the blues”. The blues can leave you feeling tearful, anxious and experiencing mood swings in the first 2 weeks after your baby’s birth.
Feelings of anxiety, irritability, having diffculty sleeping and a reduced appetite may occur before mothers start to feel depressed.
Mothers with postnatal depression, however, often experience feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy that do not seem to improve. Some women may feel angry and irritated and do not understand why; others may feel tearful, alone, guilty and unsupported. Each woman’s experience of postnatal depression is different. Cultural background may also affect a woman’s experience of postnatal depression.
Often mothers suffer in silence thinking they are a “bad mother” and feeling that they have to cope. Postnatal depression can affect how mothers feel about their baby and how they care for them. Most do not realize that they might be experiencing postnatal depression. The risk is greater for mothers who have suffered from depression in the past, who do not have good support, or who have experienced a stressful event such as a trauma, the death of a family member or a friend of illness.
How do you know if you have postnatal depression?
One way is to ask yourself if any of the following points describe how you are feeling:
- I have been unable to laugh and see the funny side of things.
- I have not looked forward with enjoyment to things as I used to.
- I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong.
- I have often been anxious or worried for no good reason.
- I have felt scared or panicky for no good reason.