Postnatal Depression (PND)
How PND Affects Mothers
While it is more likely for PND symptoms to emerge within the first 6 months after giving birth, they can occur any time within the first year. Furthermore, much research evidence is showing that the onset of PND can begin during pregnancy (known as Antenatal Depression) and can carry over after the birth, exacerbated by the stress of caring for Baby (and other children). Factors that contribute to mothers being vulnerable to PND include:
- Genetic and biological causes
- Prenatal anxiety
- Illness during pregnancy
- Poor social support
- Marital/relationship difficulties
- Stress of caring for Baby
- Lack of sleep
- Prior miscarriage or stillbirth
- Traumatic birth
- Traumatic or stressful life events (during childhood, adolescence or as an adult).
Importantly, if you are showing any PND symptoms or have anxiety/panic attacks let others know how you are feeling ... for your own sake, for your partner and for your baby's wellbeing. Seek help from a doctor or other health professionals who can provide a correct diagnosis ... AND ... who can show an understanding of your needs/be a good listener/who you feel a 'connection' with. The sooner you are diagnosed the sooner you are likely to recover. Social support from trustworthy family and friends (discussed in Parenting: From the Beginning) may also be helpful to you during this time. Depending on their understanding of your needs they can listen to you, break the isolation, interact with the baby when you need a rest or perhaps babysit for a couple of hours here and there ... all of which can relieve you of the constancy of being a mum.
Below are websites of organisations specialising in depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns that provide information and self-testing questionnaires in assessing symptoms:
- The Black Dog Institute at: https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au - if you click to the section 'Depression' and go to 'In Pregnancy and Postnatal' much information is provided. You can also listen to one mother's account of her suffering from the severity of PND.
- Beyond Blue at: https://www.beyondblue.org.au and at their website about postnatal depression at: https://healthyfamilies.beyondblue.org.au/pregnancy-and-new-parents/just-speak-up
- PANDA (Post and Antenatal Depression Association Inc.) at: https://www.panda.org.au.
In the UK, The Royal College of Psychiatry provides information and support at:
The international non-profit organisation Postpartum Support International provides support contacts for parents in most countries around the world: