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Postnatal depression


























Not everyone adapts to motherhood quickly and easily. If you are feeling down after the baby blues of the first week have passed, you may have postnatal depression. This is an illness which is thought to affect about one in ten women, but many women don’t tell anyone how they are feeling.

Postnatal depression usually occurs two to eight weeks after the birth, although it can happen at any time up to a year after your baby is born. Some of the symptoms such as tiredness, irritability or poor appetite, are normal when you have just had a baby, but these are usually mild and don’t stop you leading a normal life. With postnatal depression, you may feel increasingly depressed and despondent, and looking after yourself or your baby may become too much.  You may feel tired and unwell all the time. You may be weepy and sad and unable to concentrate on anything.

Some other signs of postnatal depression are:
  • Anxiety
     
  • Panic attacks

  • Sleeplessness

  • Aches and pains or feeling unwell

  • Memory loss or lack of concentration

  • Feeling like you cannot cope

  • Constant crying

  • Loss of appetite

  • Feeling of hopelessness

  • Not being able to enjoy anything

  • Loss of interest in your baby or over-anxiousness about your baby

Women with twins, triplets or more may suffer from postnatal and longer-term depression because of the extra stress of caring for more than one baby. Planning ahead, by getting information and advice on feeding and caring for two or more babies before they are born, can help prepare you to cope and give you more confidence.

If you think you may be suffering from postnatal depression, don’t struggle on alone. Postnatal depression is an illness, and you can be helped through it, just as you would be if you had any other illness, like flu or a bad back. It doesn’t mean you are a bad mother or that you cannot cope. Talk to someone you can trust, such as your husband or a friend, or talk to your doctor. If you don’t feel up to making an appointment, ask someone to do it for you.



POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

PTSD can occur on its own or alongside postnatal depression. It’s not clear why women develop PTSD, but there may be link between the condition and feeling “out of control” and/ or being very frightened during the birth. Sometimes women worry that they might die, or that their baby might die. The symptoms include:

  • Flashbacks
     
  • Nightmares

  • Panic attacks

  • Feeling emotionally “numb”

  • Sleeping problems

  • Feeling irritable or angry, and/or

  • Irrational behaviour

If you think you might be suffering from PTSD, you must talk to someone about how you are feeling. Don’t be ashamed of how you are feeling. You are not alone, and remember, you will get better. Accepting that you need help is the first step towards recovery. Your doctor will be able to refer you.




PUERPERAL PSYCHOSIS

This is an extremely rare condition, affecting only one or two mothers in every thousand. You are more likely to be affected if you have severe mental illness or have a past history of severe mental illness. Puerperal psychosis is a serious psychiatric illness, requiring urgent medical or hospital treatment. Usually, other people will notice the mother acting strangely. The new mother may get very anxious, or panic, or believe that someone is trying to harm her or her baby.Women suffering from puerperal psychosis should be admitted to a specialist mother and baby unit so they can be treated without being separated from their baby. Most women make a complete recovery, although this may take a few weeks or months.

 



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