Exposing postnatal depression

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When we become mothers, we are expected to be superwomen by the vast majority of society. The truth is, for many new mothers, life is far from perfect. The blissful bubble of your beautiful new baby and the ‘oohing and aahing’ and showering of attention from friends and family gradually evaporates, and the reality of caring for a newborn sets in. For some mothers, caring for a newborn comes naturally and easily, and they glide through the first year with few war wounds. Unfortunately, this sets a precedent for other moms who don’t handle as well, and the issue of postnatal depression becomes a shameful secret; sufferers too afraid to reach out for fear of being viewed as weak or parental failures.

Are you one of the one in five?

An estimated one in five women suffers from post natal depression. This isn’t the same as your run of the mill baby blues. Every new mom is bound to have bad days and it’s no wonder. A newborn baby, while a wonderful blessing, also brings about sleep deprivation and stress, not to mention a whirl of hormones flying around as your body acclimatises to the fact that you are no longer sharing your body with another human being. 

While the baby blues aren’t pleasant, they eventually pass as you settle and adapt to your new role and your new baby’s schedule. Postnatal depression, in contrast, is an emotional disturbance which lasts much longer, and severely impacts the lives of both mom and family. It is a much more serious condition, and if not treated, could result in severely damaging consequences.

Causes of post natal depression

While there are cases of post natal depression which develop for no apparent reason, there are some definite triggers. These include:

•    A sufferer is already suffering from a mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia or anxiety disorders.

•    Significant stressful events during or shortly after pregnancy such as the death of a loved one.

•    A difficult pregnancy or a traumatic birth experience.

•    Financial problems.

•    Relationship problems.

•    Lack of support from family or friends.

Postnatal depression can result in feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, irritability, guilt and, in severe cases, thoughts of suicide. It can also hinder the bonding of mother to child. Postnatal depression sufferers are often embarrassed and ashamed to admit they are not coping. This can have serious consequences, and there have been numerous stories of mothers harming themselves or their children. If you think you may be suffering from postnatal depression seek help. Your silence could destroy yourself and your family. Pride needs to be put aside, and you need to be treated.

Acknowledging PND and seeking help

I broke my silence. I suffered from postnatal depression and my first year of motherhood is a blur. I am happy to say I am receiving treatment and have established the cause. Now- in my mind at least- I am a well-adjusted, doting mother who wouldn’t trade the blessing of raising my beautiful son for anything in the world. Postnatal depression is not a sign of weakness-it is a real illness that can be treated.

Support: The Post Natal Depression Support Association

Note: If you or someone you know may be suffering from postnatal depression, do seek professional help.

Do you know anyone suffering from postnatal depression?

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