Signs and Symptoms
- Tearful, weeping frequently
- Feelings of failure or being a ‘bad mother’
- Feeling unable to cope
- Feelings of guilt
- Negative thoughts
- Low self-esteem
- Loss or appetite or overeating (comfort eating)
- Difficulty in concentrating or remembering things
- Desire to escape; feeling your family would be better off without you
- Panic attacks and anxiety
- Unable to sleep or feeling exhausted when you have slept
- Low sex drive
- Feeling numb and lack of emotion
- Flashbacks to your labour and birth
- Worries over cot death
- Feelings of being trapped or suffocated
- Worries over everyday objects that could cause harm to yourself or your child
- Feeling physically ill; chest pains, headaches and dizziness
- Constant worry over your own health or that of your child/children
- Not feeling any emotion towards your baby
- Obsessive behaviours (see obsessive behaviours and thoughts)
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Suicidal thoughts and feelings
- Self Harm or Suicidal thoughts
After giving birth you may feel overwhelmed, anxious and tearful, this is really common and often referred to as The Baby Blues. It is reported that over half of new mums experience this. These symptoms are thought to be connected to the hormonal change in your body and the feelings will hopefully pass in a couple of weeks.
If your feelings persist and you are experiencing some of the above symptoms it could be that you are suffering from Postnatal Depression. Please do not be afraid to talk to your family, friends, midwife or your GP about these feelings. You can call House of Light in confidence to talk about what is going on for you. There is help available to get you through this difficult time.
About Postnatal Depression
Postnatal Depression can affect both mum and dad. There are many different reasons why either parent may feel depressed during this time. Our message to all parents; we are here to support you, you are not alone.
The onset of Postnatal Depression can be immediately after giving birth or at any time within 12 months after birth. The symptoms can be mild or severe dependent on the individual. Some people recover relatively quickly, however, it can sometimes take some time to recover and professional help will be required.
Postnatal depression can be triggered by a traumatic birth, even a straight forward birth can be an overwhelming emotional and physical experience. Broken sleep and exhaustion can contribute to the feelings of depression and with a newborn baby this is almost impossible to avoid.
Adapting to parenthood can be emotionally very demanding. The constant demands of your baby, the change in your independence, maybe feeling like you have lost your identity? You may struggle to keep engaged with friends and your social circle. The change in your relationship with your partner and the financial demands can also impact on how you feel.
For anyone recognising the signs and symptoms partners, friends and family can play a pivotal role in your recovery.
Support networks are very beneficial, this does not have to be friends and family. Support services such as House of Light or other groups can break the loneliness and isolation.
Ways to Help
Seeking help from others can be a scary prospect and lots of women and men stay quiet due to the fear of being judged and what the consequences may be. House of Light provides a safe non-judgemental space for you to open up about how you are feeling. We also offer the following advice:
• Talk to your partner or someone close about how you are feeling. Help them to understand what you need and how to help. Do not feel afraid to say you are struggling.
• Sit down and rest as much as is possible.
• Take one day at a time. Just getting up and facing the day is a massive achievement when you are ill. If you are facing a bad day, remind yourself that you have come through this before and you will manage it. Break down the day, take the day hour by hour trying not to look too far ahead. Thinking about all the feeds and nappy changes all at once can make the day feel overwhelming and unmanageable.
• Some mums find keeping a diary of good days and bad days can be a good reminder that there are good days and can also help identify triggers.
• Take any help offered. You do not have to do everything to prove you can cope.
• It can be easier said than done, however, eating well and exercising regularly is proven to help improve mental health and wellbeing.
• Avoid alcohol as this can make you feel worse.
• You will have good days and bad. If you are having a good day enjoy it, try not to go full steam ahead as doing too much can negatively impact on how you feel for the following days.
• Do not be afraid to speak to your GP, Midwife, Health Visitor and support service. House of Light’s Freephone helpline is available during office hours, you can call anonymously for advice and support.
If it is your partner who you feel may be struggling, there are ways you can help. Try to speak openly to your partner assuring them that it is okay to feel down or to be struggling. Find out as much as you can about Postnatal Depression and understand that it’s an illness you do not choose to have.
The more support and understanding offered the easier it will be for them to open up to you.
- Perhaps take over some of the household chores as something you want to do rather than as a favour to your partner.
- Try to understand that mood swings are part of the illness.
- Keep communicating and try to remain open minded. Judgement and phrases such as ‘you should be happy’ and ‘pull yourself together’ are not helpful.
- Offer as much help as you are able.
- Encourage your partner to seek professional help. Speak to GP, Midwife, Health Visitor and/or support services. House of Light is available during office hours for support and advice.
- Be patient. It can be hard supporting someone with depression and anxiety, if this is a struggle for you, seek help for you.
- Offer regular reassurance of your love for your partner, try to reassure them that they are not alone. Assurance that everything will be okay can really help.
- If you are out at work all day, take the baby for a walk on your return even if only for half an hour, this will give your partner a well needed break and give you some quality time with your little one.
House of Light can support both you and your partner through this difficult time. We offer a freephone helpline, email support, one to one therapy and group support. Please just pick up the phone or send an email, do not suffer in silence, we can help you.