HEAD SPACE

Good Health Choices - - Be Informed -

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.

POST­NA­TAL PSYCHOSIS

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.

What hap­pens?

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

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