So you may have heard of Post Natal Depression, but do you know the symptoms? One in seven women and one in 10 men suffer from it but awareness of this illness tends to be after diagnosis rather than in the lead up to having a baby. So if you're trying for a baby, pregnant or a new parent here are the key symptoms to look out for in yourself and your partner.
• Low mood for a long period of time
• Panic attacks
• Lack of concentration and motivation
• Lack of interest in your new baby and yourself
• Feeling alone
• Difficulty sleeping or feeling constantly tired
• Tension - headaches, stomach pains or blurred vision
• Decrease in appetite or increased appetite
• Reduced sex drive
• Feeling useless, worthless and guilty
• Feeling overwhelmed with situations
• Unrealistic expectations of motherhood
What Causes Post Natal Depression?
It is very rare for there to be a single cause in any depressive episode, and several factors are normally the cause. It can be caused from hormonal changes and a combination of life changing events such as childbirth and becoming a parent. Childbirth for some can be a traumatic or disappointing experience and looking after a newborn baby, figuring out how to be a mum can be demanding and stressful.
You may have found you are no longer working, have less of a social life, and have a reduced income compared to pregnancy or even before. This change in circumstances can cause added pressure and may be one of the factors to cause postnatal depression.
What Causes Paternal Post Natal Depression?
Recent research has found that when a baby is born the father experiences a change in hormones with his testosterone levels reducing slightly and oestrogen, cortisol and prolactin rise. For some Fathers, these slight changes in hormone levels can cause havoc emotionally and mentally.
The change in circumstances of becoming a dad, juggling work and finances and helping with any other children can also make fathers become depressed in the year after a child is born. As well as similar symptoms as above, some men say they became increasingly angry.
What Support Is There For PND Sufferers?
As well as seeing a GP or other health care professional who can prescribe anti-depressants, offer NHS talking therapies or help to get you specialist help there are many ways to help your depression so you can recover:
• Friends and family are really key to helping you recover. Accept help from them even if it's just doing some washing up, looking after the baby whilst you shower or cooking for you. It's very common feeling to just plough on and not want to rely on others. But if people offer, they want to help. Take the help so you can get time some 'me time' and feel a bit more like you.
• Peer-to-Peer support. Sometimes when you suffer with PND you don't feel that you can say your true feelings, but when you're talking to someone who has been where you are, it makes it easier to be honest and knowing you get an understanding reaction instantly makes it feel like therapy. PANDAS offer a Helpline, Email and Online Support and local Support Groups, visit www.pandasfoundation.org.uk for more information.
• Self Help. Taking time for yourself to do something you enjoy can give you something to look forward too, give you a chance to relax and also to switch off from being a parent just for a few hours a week. It could be anything from swimming to having a massage, or playing a sport to sewing. Or just catching up on sleep!
The most important thing to help your recovery and deal with your illness is to be as open and honest as you can be and make sure you reach out to someone at your worst. Whether that be your partner, parent or PANDAS, its important to talk about how you feel and what you need to help you. And just remember, #ItsOKNotToBeOK
More information on Post Natal Depression and support we offer can be found at www.pandasfoundation.org.uk
Our helpline is open Monday - Sunday, 9am - 8pm, call 0843 28 98 401.