Roughly 10% of all women experience psychological reactions as a result of giving birth. In 5%, the depression can be severe and last for a long time.
Studies show that post-natal depression passes, and it passes faster if you get help. So seek help. For the child's sake, you shouldn't waste any time getting the help you need. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Remember that you can get help. You're not alone. For example, you can bring up how you're feeling at your follow-up.
Even new fathers can suffer from these kind of feelings.
Find out more about fathers' post-natal depression
Talk about your feelings
The first step towards improving the situation is to talk to your close friends and family. Putting your feelings into words can ease the burden. And it also makes it easier for them to help you. If you're a single parent, you need other adults who you can share your thoughts and feelings with. Your immediate family and close friends can also be a big help.
Temporary depression after childbirth is common
Looking after a newborn baby is a new responsibility. It's easy for a new mother or father to feel unsure and inadequate. Most women who have had a baby also go through a short phase of severe mood swings. It is completely normal. The hormones that are kicking in now for your milk production and breastfeeding affect the body to varying degrees.
Feelings like euphoria one minute and sadness, irritation or fatigue the next may feel confusing, but for most people it's only temporary. If the symptoms persist, it could be post-natal depression and in that case it would be best to get some help. And this applies to the mother and the father. If you aren't sure, contact your paediatric clinic, post-natal clinic or healthcare centre.
Previous depression - you can get help in advance
People who have been depressed before run a greater risk of suffering from post-natal depression. With that knowledge, a lot of the time it can be prevented from happening again. Experience has also shown that this type of depression can be remedied though conversational therapy. Talk to your midwife.
Seek help if you feel depressed or think you have post-natal depression.
A lot of women and families try to keep the problem to themselves. Most of the time that just makes it worse. If too much time passes, it could complicate the relationship with the child and the woman may have trouble enjoying and bonding with her child. Which is why it's important that you talk about how you're feeling. It's nothing to be ashamed of and you're not alone.
Talk to your doctor or paediatric clinic. They are trained in the treatment of post-natal depression, or can refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist who can help you.
Your partner returns to work and you are alone with the responsibility
It's not entirely uncommon that this depression is triggered when the partner goes back to work and the woman is left alone with all the responsibility. It can manifest itself in a number of ways. The most common sign is for the woman to feel hopelessness, helplessness and feelings of guilt towards the child.
She doesn't think she's a good enough mother. Daily life can seem insurmountable.
In some cases, anxiety-ridden and/or aggressive thoughts directed towards the child signal that the woman needs to get help before she can move forward. It is important that this is done at an early stage.
Between 10-15% of all women who have given birth can, during the first year after childbirth, react by feeling sad or anxious. Their state of mind affects all areas of their life. Reacting to major events in life is normal, and even if you're happy about becoming a mother, sometimes it can feel like a change that you aren't really ready for. You might feel overwhelmed and powerless, and feel like you aren't ready for life's new challenges.
Symptoms of post-natal depression
If you don't have the energy you need to do the things that are expected of you, you will get tired and lose control of the situation, which can lead to post-natal depression. Post-natal depression can manifest itself in different ways. You might:
• Feel sad and resigned, and cry for no reason.
• Have no energy and lose interest in everything going on around you.
• Have trouble concentrating.
• Have trouble bonding with your child.
• Feel tired and want to sleep all the time.
• Have trouble getting to sleep, sleep restlessly and wake up early.
• Comfort eat or lose your appetite.
• Waste money on unnecessary things in an attempt to feel better.
• Lack self-confidence and feel low.
• Have feelings of guilt and blame yourself because you are not a good enough mother.
• Feel joyless.
• Be scared of being a alone.
• Be scared of harming the child or yourself.
• Be scared of going out, taking the bus of driving the car.
• Attempt to hide your feelings from everyone.
• Be scared that you are or will be mentally ill.
These are just some of the symptoms of post-natal depression. If you aren't sure, contact your paediatric clinic, post-natal clinic or healthcare centre.
Both men and women can be affected by post-natal depression. It's not uncommon and it's a heavy burden to bear alone. The sooner you seek help, the better the prognosis.