Postnatal depression is different from the baby blues which can make you feel anxious, weepy and moody, but it usually gets better within a few hours or days, after the birth. But, you may have postnatal depression, if these feelings go beyond the first two weeks after your baby is born, which is an illness that will not go away quickly without treatment.
Being a mum is an emotional and physical roller-coaster, and you’re likely to experience lows and highs. You probably don’t have postnatal depression if you have a few of the symptoms and signs described below every once in a while. But if you feel miserable most of the time and you have no positive feelings to balance out your anxious or low feelings, you may have postnatal depression.
During pregnancy you may have been depressed or perhaps few weeks or even months after the birth, symptoms of depression have crept up on you. You probably have postnatal depression if you:
- feel anxious about things that normally wouldn’t bother you
- take no pleasure from being with your baby
- feel hostile towards your baby, your other children or your partner
- be extremely worried about your baby’s health, even though he’s fine
- feel guilty, perhaps about not loving your baby enough or not coping
- think you’re a hopeless mum, even if you’re doing well
- fear that you might harm your baby
- experience constant negative feelings and thoughts
- be obsessed with your baby’s health such as whether or not he’s breathing properly or gaining weight or your own health
- take no pleasure in the things you usually enjoy
- feel exhausted and lack in motivation
- lack in confidence
- blame yourself for everything
- be not keen to see friends or family
- feel tearful and irritable
- feel persistently low or sad
Postnatal depression may make you unable to cope with your daily life and feel sapped of energy. You may not be able to concentrate. Or you may be very indecisive or find it hard to remember things. Postnatal depression often affects sleep, whether that means you are disturbed by early morning waking or you can’t get to sleep.
If you have postnatal depression, you may also suffer from:
- panic attacks that cause a sickness, sweating, rapid heartbeat or fainting
- tummy pains, blurred vision or headaches
- the urge to comfort eat or a loss of appetite
- the urge to self-harm or suicidal feelings
- a low sex drive
Postnatal depression affects everyone differently. But if you’re experiencing many of these feelings constantly or getting worse, talk to your child health nurse or other medical professional.
You don’t have to cope on your own. If you recognize that you may have postnatal depression, the first step to feeling better is to seek the treatment and help that you need. Postpartum psychosis is a more serious postnatal illness, which needs immediate medical help. If you seek help early treatment may be more effective.