Postnatal depression: The symptoms

Recent surveys show that 1 in 3 women will suffer with some form of postnatal depression, so if you think you might be one of them, you’re definitely not alone

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What is PND?

The term postnatal depression is used to describe a range of symptoms of depression and anxiety experienced by women in the months or years after having a baby. A large proportion of women experience ‘baby blues’, feeling tearful or worried in the days after giving birth. It’s thought that this is caused by the hormonal changes, and usually goes away after a few days.  Some women, however, develop more severe feelings, which don’t quickly fade, and if this happens to you it’s possible that you have PND.

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Who gets PND?

PND can affect anyone who’s had a baby. Because the reasons for it can be different in every case, there’s no ‘type’ of person that’s more likely to get it, although there are some factors that can increase your risk:

•    If you’ve suffered from depression before   

•    If you have a family history of PND    

•    If you’ve had a particularly difficult birth experience   

•    If you have other stresses in your life, such as relationship problems.

Interestingly,  increasing numbers of men are suffering from PND, and also women who have adopted babies. This suggests that there are other factors at play than simply hormonal changes.

Could you have PND?

Some of the symptoms of PND seem to be the opposite of each other – for example, some women may have insomnia, some may want to sleep all the time – because depression affects each individual in different ways, and you may have several of these symptoms, or only a few:  

  • Feeling low, as if something just isn’t right  
  • Feeling anxious, jittery or panicky
  • Inability to sleep, frequent waking, or waking very early in the morning   
  • Excessive tiredness, wanting to sleep all the time  
  • Lack of interest in sex, not wanting to be touched or cuddled   
  • Feelings of unreality, as if you’re distanced from things around you   
  • Being unable to feel close or affectionate towards your baby   
  • Being overly protective or worried about your baby   
  • Horrible thoughts or pictures popping into your head  
  • Tearfulness   
  • Feeling that you’re worthless, or a bad mother   
  • Avoiding going out or talking to people  
  • Overeating, or not able to eat  
  • Feeling overwhelmed and as if you can’t cope 
  • No interest in things you normally enjoy
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Test for postnatal depression – Edinburgh Scale Test

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