What are the postnatal depression signs?
We know feeling low, tearful or tired in the first few weeks after giving birth, is common. If you have been feeling sad or low in mood continuously for three weeks or more, it could be postnatal depression (PND), says Sarah Bateup a psychological therapist and clinical lead at PsychologyOnline.
The warning signs
One in seven mothers will experience postnatal depression and many suffer needlessly because they are too embarrassed or afraid to admit they need help, explains Sarah. It's a common misconception that you would show symptoms immediately, but the reality is you can develop the condition any time within the first year after the baby is born, and even on some occasions can develop later.
If you are suffering with postnatal depression, you would feel more than just down, explains Sarah. Signs to look out for include a loss of pleasure and enjoyment in things and avoidance of activities you would normally enjoy. Often mothers showing signs of PND worry excessively, panic and find it hard to be reassured.
These feelings can be joined by physical symptoms such as:
* Feeling sick
* Butterflies in the stomach
* Dizziness and a racing heart.
Mums may not want to be around other people or leave the house. In extreme cases, Sarah explains, they may stop sleeping, eating and taking general care of themselves and their baby.
Research also suggests that some mothers without a strong support network or family nearby are more at risk, potentially because they feel they have no one outside of their immediate family they can confide in.
How to get help
The quicker you get help, the better, says Sarah. Going to see your GP is a good starting point but sometimes even that is too much for some women who are unwilling or unable to leave the house.
One treatment that can be beneficial for postnatal depression is CBT, which is available both on the NHS and privately. It is a collaborative process with the therapist and patient working together to understand the mental processes that are maintaining the symptoms.
Usually these "maintaining factors" are driven by the way that our mind begins to interpret things and our consequential actions or behaviours. When we feel anxious for example, it is common to avoid doing things that we used to enjoy and usually results in people feeling worse.
PsychologyOnline's approach allows you to work with a therapist online using secure instant messages and gain the skills and strategies needed to cope more effectively. There is no need for new-mums to even change out of their pyjamas!