It’s not surprising that we may feel a little low after the initial excitement of having a baby wears off and we’re faced with the day-to-day-ness of motherhood, but there’s a big difference between a case of the baby blues and postnatal depression.
IS IT THE BABY BLUES?
The baby blues usually set in a few days after childbirth and may last a few days – though if they last for longer than two weeks, it may be a sign you’re developing postnatal depression. You could find yourself getting teary for no reason, and feeling irritable, anxious or overwhelmed. Changing hormone levels are the most common trigger but the demands of being a new mum can add to the overload.
...OR POSTNATAL DEPRESSION?
For some women, the low mood doesn’t ease with time and may get worse, with lasting feelings of sadness or unworthiness, reduced concentration or loss of memory, and listlessness. Postnatal depression can develop anytime in the first year after having a baby, and experts blame fluctuating hormone levels or a thyroid imbalance. If you think you may have it, don’t suffer in silence. Talk to your partner or a friend and make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.
This is a rare condition that affects one or two in every 1000 new mums. It usually occurs in the first two weeks and always in the first few months after a birth, and can last as long as three months. You’re more at risk if you have a history of bipolar disorder. Recognising symptoms and seeking help is essential as the sooner you’re treated the less impact it will have.
A woman with postnatal psychosis loses touch with reality, often having hallucinations or delusions. Early signs are:
» Finding it hard to sleep
» Feeling full of energy or restless and irritable
» Feeling strong, powerful, unbeatable
» Having strange beliefs, such as thinking people are trying to harm your baby
» A combination of manic symptoms – having lots of energy, hearing voices, hallucinations, talking quickly, having difficulty concentrating – or depressive symptoms – low energy, not sleeping or eating, having thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby, feeling hopeless or helpless as a mother.
Who can help?
As postnatal psychosis is a complex mental health condition, your doctor will refer you to a specialist psychiatrist for treatment.
Changing hormone levels are the most common trigger