Monday the 16th of January is dubbed Blue Monday - a name given to a day in January reported to be the most depressing day of the year.
Although many mental health charities and experts disagree with the idea, Blue Monday does give the perfect opportunity to discuss a topic that many mothers struggle to talk about. Postnatal depression is a type of depression that is very common for parents to experience after having a baby. NHS Choices in fact believe that it is so common that it affects more than 1 in every 10 women within a year of giving birth, whilst the mental health charity Mind believe that around 1 in 5 women will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or in the year after giving birth.
One of the many difficulties of Postnatal depression, as with other forms, is that it can develop gradually and can be very hard to recognise. We have compiled a guide to the signs and symptoms that you or a loved-one may experience if either of you are suffering from Postnatal depression. After having a baby, it is important to look after yourself and it is essential to look out for others after they have given birth as well.
More than just “baby blues”
Women often feel a bit down, upset and apprehensive in the week after giving birth and this is considered perfectly normal. Having a baby is a huge life event and it is therefore natural to experience a range of emotions. However, if these feelings of sadness start to have a big impact on how you live your life, you might be experiencing Postnatal Depression (PND).
Loss of interest
No longer enjoying things that once used to give you pleasure and a complete loss of interest in the world around you could be a sign that you are suffering from PND.
Lack of energy
Feeling tired all the time combined with disturbed sleep for an extended period of time.
Many women suffering from Postnatal depression have problems concentrating and making decisions
Changes to your eating habits
A loss of appetite or comfort eating could also be seen as signs.
Feelings of guilt
You may suffer from feelings of guilt and hopelessness.
Trouble bonding with your baby
If you are suffering from PND you may have the feeling that you are unable to look after your child and may also have difficulty bonding with him or her. You may perhaps get no sense of enjoyment in their company.
You may experience thoughts about suicide and self-harm or about hurting your baby
Spotting these symptoms and signs in loved-ones
Sadness -Frequent crying for no obvious or apparent reason could be a symptom of PND as well losing their sense of humour.
Quiet – Many women suffering from PND, withdraw from contact with other people. They can become very introverted and lose all sense of time.
Negativity – Also speaking negatively all the time with claims that they are hopeless and useless.
Neglecting themselves – Perhaps one of the more obvious signs to spot is a lack of personal hygiene such as not washing or changing their clothes.
Difficulty bonding with their baby – Another sign could be that your friend sees looking after their child as a duty and never wants to play with them or on the other hand that she is constantly worrying that something is wrong with her baby.
If you think someone you know is depressed or you are experiencing many of these symptoms yourself, it is a good idea to talk to others about these feelings whether it is to a friend, GP or health visitor. With the right support, most women make a full recovery.