5 common signs of postnatal depression

5 common signs of postnatal depression

Becoming a mother brings with it a barrage of emotions and not all of them are heaven sent. We unpick the main symptoms of postpartum depression you might feel.

mum tending to crying baby

Image: Getty Images

So, you’ve got a new baby and it’s wonderful and mind-blowing, and absolutely everything you’ve always wanted – but suddenly those feelings of elation have left the building. You might feel as though you don’t really know who you are anymore. Or perhaps everything just feels way too much – or is it troubling you that all your friends are having fun and your life seems to have ground to a halt? Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s OK.

‘Becoming a parent is a whirlwind of emotions, but we’re often not expecting the negative ones,’ says senior midwife Ash Henry. ‘Society tells us that we should feel happy and blissed out with our new babies 24/7, but the reality is often very different.’

So listen up: every emotion you’re having – almost without exception – is totally normal, even though you might not have been expecting it. The key to coping with these feelings is to identify which symptoms you're experiencing and, most importantly, to understand that you're not alone. That's why we've unpicked the main signs of postnatal depression, discussing them with real mums who share their experiences of going through the same feelings. 

Feeling overwhelmed

mum holding baby

Image: Getty Images

Having a baby is an all-encompassing, monumental thing to get your head around, and if you’re one of the lucky ones who hasn’t encountered feelings of being totally knocked sideways by it all then you’re probably in the minority.

Whether you’ve got one baby, twins or children of different ages, being a mother never stops and the responsibility can feel debilitating.

‘Having a new baby felt like a crazy time,’ says Joanne, mum to Bobby, four. ‘I knew in the sane part of my brain that I loved him and felt so grateful, but in the real world, every day for at least six months, I felt out of control, anxious and overwhelmingly out of my depth. If I’m honest, I wouldn’t really call the experience enjoyable, but now, a few years on, I realise that was just the induction to motherhood.’

Feeling lonely

mum holding twin babies

Image: Getty Images

You might think that having a newborn on you virtually every minute of the day and night would lead to a new mum craving nothing but time alone. But, while mums might feel extremely connected to their baby, they often feel extremely disconnected from everyone else.

When partners go back to work and visits from friends and family dry up, feelings of isolation and FOMO (fear of missing out) on things friends are up to often creep in.

‘For the first few months of my twins’ lives it was a relentless cycle of feeds, nappy changes and sleepless nights. As a result, I rarely managed to leave the house, let alone dress myself,’ says Paula, mum to Felix and Gwen, two. ‘I’d have to turn down invitations from the mums in my NCT group when they’d all get together, and would feel so lonely and left out when I’d see the pictures of them on Facebook having leisurely picnics and playdates while I was stuck at home.’

Feeling guilty

mum kissing baby on cheek

Image: Getty Images

The sources of guilt in the early days of motherhood can be numerous and all-consuming. The feelings creep in when you can’t live up to the life you led before you became a mother, while the pervasive idea that your new life should revolve around the baby can breed guilt when you then do something for yourself.

For many it’s a non-stop guilt party.

‘As soon as I became a mother I felt so much guilt about everything,’ says Dora, mum to Wilbur, one. ‘I felt guilty that I couldn’t keep the house clean, despite being home all day, guilty that I never had any energy for time with my boyfriend or to walk the dog, and guilty that I wasn’t enjoying being a mother as much as I thought I would, especially as some of my best friends were struggling to conceive.’

Feelings of resentment

mum holding newborn looking outside of window

Image: Getty Images

No matter how wonderful they are, babies have this knack of coming between the people who are trying to raise them.

Generally, the lion’s share of the childcare will fall on one person and that can be incredibly hard on any relationship.

In a recent study, 49 per cent of couples with new babies said they suddenly started arguing about chores and responsibilities when they hadn’t before. Throw in some sleepless nights and you’ve got yourself the complete opposite of domestic bliss.

‘Within weeks of having our baby I started to feel very resentful towards my husband,’ says Victoria, mum to Dolores, 15 months. ‘He was the one who’d wanted children much more than me and yet he got to walk out the door to go to work every day, leaving me to juggle everything. We suddenly started arguing about who had the harder day or who was the most tired and I felt angry towards him, like everything was his fault.’

Feeling bored

mum holding baby in front of laptop and holding phone

Image: iStock

You did it – you made it through childbirth! And, after the high emotion of that, all the messages of congrats and delighted visitors, you’re back home on your own, all day, every day.

And guess what? It can be a bit (whisper it) boring. Baby boredom is an issue in the West, as new mums are generally quite isolated, unlike in other cultures, where women often live as part of a wider group.

 

While all of these feelings are really normal, if you’re at all concerned that your negative emotions have been going on for a long time or you can’t manage them, make an appointment and talk things through with your GP.

 

Words: Samantha Wood 

 

Do you have any advice on coping with postnatal depression? Let us know by tweeting us @GurgleUK or follow our Facebook Page. 

 

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