Post-partum depression - understanding, accepting and managing

new mum with baby alone.jpeg

It’s a sad fact that Post-partum depression is very much under-diagnosed. The fact that it is commonly referred to as “the baby blues” may not be so helpful. This description doesn’t convey the significantly life changing emotions and challenges that patients can suffer during the illness.


Feeling So Low When You Should Feel On Top Of the World

Post-partum depression can be tricky to self-diagnose, particularly with a first child, because you will be feeling immensely tired trying to adjust to your new way of life, missing sleep and feeling frustrated, especially if you have a baby who has a powerful set of lungs that they like to put into action throughout the day (and night!).

Feelings of absolute exhaustion, regularly having low energy, inability to sleep when you can, and feeling regularly “wound up” however are not just a normal part of coping with a new baby – they are all signs that something isn’t quite right.

Who Is Susceptible To Post-Partum Depression?

Research suggests that one in ten mothers suffer from post-partum depression, but it can also affect fathers too. Recently several female celebrities have shared their experience of the illness in order to encourage more women to recognise the symptoms and seek help.

Some triggers for post-partum depression include lifestyle choices, such as smoking, lack of physical and mental stimulation during pregnancy (staying active as much as possible), or emotional strains such as relationship or financial problems.

Some women will chose to formula feed instead of breastfeed their baby, while others may not physically be able to choose breastfeeding. Either way, missing the powerful bond that breastfeeding can encourage can also be a trigger for post-partum depression.

Otherwise, it may simply be that the change to your regular routine has just knocked you sideways and you aren’t sure you can cope, particularly if you have experienced similar feelings or mental health difficulties in the past.

Who Can Help Me With Depression After Childbirth?

In the case of hormonal changes in your body, which are most likely to alleviate over time, and in the case of fathers suffering with post-partum depression, your doctor may prescribe a course of anti-depressants.

If the depression is a result of a lifestyle stressor, or even because of trauma from a physically difficult birth, then talking therapies are best and can quickly be accessed. Emotion Focused Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitisation therapy can be particularly beneficial for traumatic experience and feelings of overwhelming anger, frustration or sadness.

If you and your partner are struggling together then Relationship Counselling may also be a useful tool for talking through feelings and working out better ways to support each other.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help you to come to terms with the reasons why you might be feeling hopeless or worthless, and address your feelings towards your child and help you find ways to combat negative thoughts and protect yourself emotionally.

Post-partum depression can seriously affect family relationships if left untreated, so if you are feeling over-whelmed following childbirth please contact us – our team can offer you support and guidance to get you the help that you need. 

David Clarke