Also known as Postnatal depression, this condition can often be mistaken for something referred to as the ‘Baby Blues’. Both of these conditions involve feeling depressed, horrible mood swings and start a few days after giving birth.
The difference between Baby Blues and Postpartum depression
As a new mom, the combination of a lifestyle change, lack of sleep and rapidly fluctuating hormones can result in the Baby Blues within two weeks of giving birth. However, these feelings should start to go away after around two weeks – when your body starts to adjust as do your hormones. It is important to be kind to yourself during this time. Although many women have gone through labour and birth, it does not make the process easy. Feeling out of sorts, overwhelmed and down are understandable. Sometimes Baby Blues turns into something more, and that is something that you need to look out for.
Symptoms of postpartum depression
According to the American Psychiatric Association, here is a basic checklist to watch out for:
- Fatigue, or a decrease of energy
- Impaired concentration and decision making
- The inability to feel pleasure
- A tendency to blame yourself, to feel guilty or worthless
- Sleep disturbances
- Agitation or restlessness
- Appetite disturbances or weight loss
- Recurring thoughts of self-harm
If you read through this list and found yourself identifying with a few or all of these symptoms – it is very possible that you have Postpartum Depression. Again, this is a physical condition that is treatable. It is not your fault and you are not a bad mother for having it. In fact, between 10 to 15% of mothers worldwide suffer from Postnatal depression, with many more in countries with higher poverty levels. Without intervention, Postnatal depression can last for years.
Regardless of your personal support system, there are support structures out there that can help you through this difficult time. If your Postnatal depression is compromising your ability to look after your child, or you have any thoughts of self-harm, it is important to know that there is something you can do if you reach out to the right places. The following organisations offer assistance, and are trained to help you.
Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline
0800 70 80 90
SADAG Mental Health Line
011 234 4837
Suicide Crisis Line
0800 567 567
You can also speak to your GP, Gynaecologist or midwife about what you are feeling. Joining a support group, or a mother and child class can help with feelings of isolation – you will be surprised how many other mom’s may be going through the same thing as you.
Toptots Early Learning SA