Postnatal Depression and Anxiety

Posted on May 12, 2013 in Hot topics

Postnatal Depression and Anxiety

When people think of Postnatal Depression, the images of a mother being unable to care for her baby and also feeling little bond with her baby are commonly conjured up. However, in reality Postnatal Depression encapsulates a range of different feelings and behaviors, which can vary widely between individuals. What we do know is that rates of Postnatal Depression can occur in as many as 1 of 7 women.

It seems that women do often feel the more typical depression symptoms, such as low mood, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, not able to enjoy much, difficulty falling asleep even if the baby sleeps, appetite loss or gain, feeling guilt or self blame, and wanting to escape from the situation. However, what is sometimes not realized is that feeling very anxious a lot of the time can also be part of this postnatal depression . This anxiety can include excessive worrying about harm coming to the baby or another family member. Mothers who have postnatal anxiety can also become quite fixated on the baby’s sleep routines, or that the baby is doing what they should developmentally. Another often frightening anxiety may be intrusive thoughts about harming the baby. At times a mother can be distressed that she does not feel close to her baby and as connected as she would like.

Struggling in the above ways may be because of a number of reasons. These factors include the pregnancy and birth being difficult or traumatic, as well as previous pregnancy losses or attempts to fall pregnant. As well, breastfeeding issues, which can result in mothers feeling guilty, and unsettled babies make for a taxing time for new mums. The sleep deprivation alongside this can make it really hard, especially if there is very little support. Having had a personal history of anxiety and depression, or there being a history in ones’ family is also considered a risk factor. Also, a problematic relationship with one’s own mother can make mothering a struggle. We also know that any previous experience of abuse or trauma can complicate new parenthood. For many, this is a time of great adjustment and upheaval and great responsibility.

We must not also forget that fathers can experience Postnatal Depression as much as mothers. In fact because of difficulties for men with talking about their feelings, depression can be overlooked. What is important to remember is that there are a number of effective ways to support men and women during this time which enables them to fully recover.