Baby blues and postnatal depression

Baby blues and postnatal depression
As sleep patterns change, hormonal fluctuations occur and the upheaval of your life starts to affect you, it is common for mothers, and sometimes fathers, to suffer from postnatal depression that normally occurs within the first four to six weeks after birth. Some mothers find that their postnatal depression occurs after a few months or more as it slowly mounts up over a longer period of time.

Baby blues is a term used for a mild form of depression that is said to affect almost half of all mothers in the western world. This can occur from around the third day after delivering until around the tenth and leaves you feeling tearful, tired and irritable but no medication or treatment is usually needed, just rest and support from your nearest and dearest.

The symptoms of postnatal depression are more severe however and include feeling low and irritable for a sustained period of time, being unable to sleep, feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope, suffering panic attacks and tearfulness and having a lack of interest in yourself and your baby. There are many other signs that you may be suffering from postnatal depression and you should talk to someone about your feelings if you think this may be the case. There is no embarrassment in admitting you are struggling. One in ten women in the UK suffer from the postnatal depression and it's important that you talk with someone as soon as possible to help you through this difficult period.

There are reasons that may make you more likely to get postnatal depression but there is not a hard and fast set of rules to determine the causes. Women who have suffered depression in the past may be more susceptible, as well as those having an unsupportive partner or difficult home life. Difficulties with the pregnancy or birth that have left you with health problems or trouble breastfeeding are also reasons why you may find yourself suffering from postnatal depression.
You have done an amazing thing by growing a life inside you and giving birth and it is perfectly natural for your body and mind to take time to adjust.
However, with the right support and treatment there is no reason why you won’t make full recovery. Different types of treatment are available from counselling to anti-depressants. Counselling or support groups may be a good option for you if you feel there is no-one to listen to you at home, or if you find it difficult to talk to close friends and family about your depression. If you do not feel like this is enough then your doctor can prescribe anti-depressants, which work by increasing certain ‘feel good’ hormones in your brain and help you to sleep. The effect of this medication may not be felt for the first ten-fourteen days but most women find their symptoms start to decrease after this period of time.

By understanding how you can help yourself at this difficult time, you can help to prevent postnatal depression or reduce the symptoms while seeking other means of support. By getting enough rest and the right levels of exercise and nutrition, you will help your body and mind stay on top of things. Meeting other mums who have the same stresses and worries as you may help you to find ways to cope.

Most importantly, do not be too hard on yourself. You have done an amazing thing by growing a life inside you and giving birth and it is perfectly natural for your body and mind to take time to adjust.

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