Postnatal depression is the term used for a specific type of depression that some women experience in the 12 months after gifing birth. New moms may feel very overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed.
New motherhood is an exhausting time, and many things may contribute to a new mother feeling overwhelmed, such as changing hormones, a lack of sleep, disruption of order and routine, the loss of self-esteem, relationship stress or breakdown, loneliness, stress, and financial pressures, to name a few.
For many, the joy and excitement they expect to feel after giving birth are not there. Instead, a new mother may find herself feeling anxious, down, or depressed.
Feeling anxious, down or depressed is a normal response to such massive physical and life upheaval, and for most, these symptoms reduce and eventually pass over time as things settle and a new ‘normal’ is established. However, some women continue to feel these and other symptoms, and need help coping while caring for their new baby.
Negative effects of postnatal depression are often made worse when diagnosis and treatment are delayed. Many mothers feel shame and are reluctant to admit that they are feeling down. This is due to the fear that they may be judged as ‘bad’, or thought to be incapable of caring for their baby.
Many mothers don't know what is wrong with them, can't identify what is happening, and are unaware that help is available to them.
The fact is, women with postnatal depression tend to respond well to treatment, and early diagnosis and treatment result in faster recovery than in cases where treatment is delayed. Extra support and practical help for mothers are also key to preventing and recovering from PND.
If you as a new mother feel that things are not quite right, the best thing you can do is acknowledge this, however difficult it may feel to admit. Talk to someone you trust – a friend, partner, midwife or your GP.
Postnatal depression can be characterised by a broad range of symptoms that may vary in severity.
Difficulty bonding with your baby
Constant low mood or feelings of sadness
Feeling tired all the time and feeling like you have no energy
Lack of interest in things you previously enjoyed
Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
Feeling like you are not able to care for your baby
Feelings of guilt or self-blame
Difficulty making decisions or concentrating
With professional help and support, postnatal depression is temporary and treatable.
The general psychiatry programmes on offer at Netcare Akeso facilities are able to assist new mothers who may be experiencing postnatal depression through the care of specialist psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists and nursing staff.
As part of our commitment to providing the best and safest care to all of our patients, we listen. If you have anything you'd like to ask us, or need assistance accessing our services, please get in touch.