Postnatal Depression

How common is post natal depression?

Postnatal depression can develop any time over the first year particularly around the time the baby is four to six months old. One in ten women will develop this illness which isn’t surprising given the often overwhelming adjustment to motherhood.

Post birth blues

It’s very common to feel low and teary after birth especially with the fluctuation of hormones, and when the milk comes through. This is referred to as the ‘baby blues’ and happens 2-4 days after birth. It only lasts for a short period, usually a few days. Being in a hospital environment can also be conducive to a low mood.

Puerperal psychosis

One in a 1000 women will develop a rare form of depression called puerperal psychosis. It usually develops a few weeks after the birth, and symptoms include severe depression, mania, delusions and hallucinations.

Symptoms of depression

  • Feeling low and tearful
  • Thoughts of death and self harm
  • Unable to cope with everyday tasks
  • Unable to concentrate or make decisions
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Irritable and angry
  • Hostility towards others
  • Loss of appetite or over eating
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Obsessive fear about the baby’s well being
  • Difficulty bonding with the baby

Useful reading

Surviving Post Natal Depression: At Home, No One Hears You Scream. Cara Aiken.
Eyes Without Sparkle: A Journey Through Postnatal Illness. Elaine A Hanzak.