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What is postnatal depression?

They say having a baby is one of the most joyous times in a woman’s life. But what if it’s not? What if you start feeling overwhelmed by your emotions? It’s called postnatal depression – and it affects 1 in 5 women.
When does postnatal depression occur?
Postnatal depression (also known as postpartum depression) can arise in the first few weeks after giving birth – or any time within your baby’s first year.
What causes it?
Research is still being done into why depression happens after pregnancy. But it’s believed there’s a higher risk of having PND if you’ve experienced depression previously.
There are several reasons why a woman might get PND. But it’s commonly down to hormonal fluctuations that stem from childbirth.
Some women may experience PND if they had a ‘bad’ experience during their pregnancy. This could include having your baby prematurely, having a traumatic birth, or caring for a baby that’s unwell. It could also arise if you’re having trouble breastfeeding, or you’re struggling to adapt to your changing body.

What does postnatal depression feel like?

Many women feel a little teary when they’ve just given birth. It’s even been dubbed the ‘baby blues’. But those anxious feelings only last for a few weeks. If you feel that way after a month or more, it’s worth speaking with a healthcare professional about PND.

Many women (and some men) with postnatal depression experience:

Persisting low mood
Less energy and tiredness
Sleep difficulties
Problems bonding with their baby
Having suicidal thoughts, or thinking about harming their baby
Feeling down and less interested in the world

Getting treatment

If you feel down or upset more than a few weeks after giving birth, let the people in your support circle know – and see a professional. They’ll be able to help you navigate your mental health, and may propose treatments such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), meditation, exercise and nutrition, or medication.

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