Have you recently had a baby and have suffered from these symptoms?
Anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, feeling low, sleeplessness, longing to sleep, unable to cope, irritable, aches and pains of unknown cause, unusual thoughts or fears, loss of interest in sex, lack of concentration.
You may be suffering from Postnatal Depression. You are not alone.
Remember it is now thought that as many as 3 in 10 mothers suffer some form of depression or distress after having a baby. It occurs for a number of complex reasons, one of which is the huge adjustment that a mother needs to make after the baby arrives.
Postnatal Illness (PNI) is a term which covers three types of problems which occur after childbirth the Blues, Postnatal Depression and Puerperal Psychosis.
Third or fourth day blues affect most women after childbirth. The Blues are characterised by weepiness, irritability and mild depression, some mothers feel very anxious and tense. It has been suggested the this form of Postnatal depression is associated with rapid but normal hormonal changes in the body in the first few days after delivery, The Blues, though disturbing to a new mother, are not serious and usually resolve after a few days. Mothers should be allowed to cry and talk about their worries. A mother should not be told to “pull herself together, she needs rest and reassurance.
This occurs in one in ten mothers and can start within six weeks of delivery but may also show itself much later. Symptoms may include despondency, sleeping and eating difficulties, feelings of guilt and inadequacy particularly, in relation to the new baby, loss of sexual interest. Most depressed mothers feel very tired and lack energy. Often they feel unable to concentrate and find even simple tasks difficult and confusing. Sometimes a mother will experience panic attacks or feel that she is going mad, or she may have inexplicable aches and pains she needs to be encouraged to believe that she will get better with time, and reassured that the illness is not her fault.
Please contact Mothers for Mothers and arrange to talk to someone who can help. Our organisation was set up by mothers with Postnatal Illness.
A Health Visitor may observe the mother’s difficulties and suggest that the patient visits her doctor. The treatment offered may include support, practical and psychological as well as antidepressant drugs.
Anti depressants are not addictive, but taken properly for a period of months, help to lift a mother’s mood and set her on the road to recovery. She should be encouraged to look after herself by eating properly and having rest and she may find it helpful to talk to other women who have suffered in this way and recovered.
This is a severe but luckily rare form of postnatal illness. The woman usually starts to think irrationally, her behaviour and symptoms can be so severe that the mother is no longer able to cope with normal life.
Sometimes a mother may be very excited, she may talk very quickly and her ideas may be difficult to follow. She is over-active, doesn’t sleep or eat properly. She may become suspicious and if she does not get her own way, aggressive language and behaviour may result. She will not be thinking logically and may appear very different from her usual self. Occasionally she may suffer from false beliefs or think that she is seeing or hearing visions. Some mothers may become suicidal and in extreme cases there may be a risk to a child. It is vital that medical help is sought. Treatment may involve hospitalisation. ECT and major tranquillisers may be given.
Know when to ask for medical help: The illness may be affecting the whole family, or there may be a risk of rejecting the baby or risk of harm to herself or to other members of the family. Be wary if the mother feels distant or cut off from what is happening. This can lead to state of withdrawal from reality, where the mother starts to live in a world of her own.
Remember the above are all forms of illness from which a mother will recover.
Helpline 0117 975 6006