Written by Dr. Joseph Sgroi
What is it?
Postnatal depression affects approximately 1 in 7 women and develops between a month and a year after a baby is born.
It is different from the baby blues, which up to 80% of women may experience. The ‘baby blues’ is a set of feelings that can occur between day three and ten after a baby is born. It can last few days and is usually due to changes in hormone levels, learning to breastfeed, lack of sleep and a combination of any.
Postnatal depression can also affect fathers and seems to occur more between six weeks to six months after birth.
What are the symptoms?
- Feeling sad, unhappy or just in a very low mood most of the day
- Loss of pleasure or interest in most activities
- Feeling anxious and panicked as well as scared of being alone or going out
- Difficulty sleeping or over-sleeping and/or having nightmares
- Feeling restless or slowed down, sad, teary and hopeless about the future.
- Fatigue or loss of energy, exhaustion
- Feelings of being inadequate, worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt – especially in relation to your new baby.
- Difficulties thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
- Excessive worry about your baby
How is it diagnosed?
It is important to recognise and understand your feelings. And if something doesn’t feel right, speak to me, my midwife or your GP who will be able to help you identify whether you have postnatal depression.
There is a questionnaire that asks about symptoms and your current feelings. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) helps diagnose symptoms common with anxiety and feelings of depression. We perform the EPDS at 28 weeks of pregnancy and during your six week check to ensure you are feeling ok.
The Beyond Blue website has some very useful tools that you can refer to here
How is it treated?
There are different treatment options that I or your GP can go through. These options can include medication as well as counselling and quite often are a combination of both.
Where to get help?
It is so important to raise awareness and for us to talk more about PND. This is not something for anyone to ever be embarrassed about and the more we talk the better.
If you or someone you know have any of the above symptoms or are showing signs of postnatal depression, please contact any of the resources below:
- PANDA - 1300 726 306
- beyondblue - 1300 224 636
- Pregnancy, Birth and Baby - 1800 882 436