Postnatal depression

What is it? 

What is it? Postnatal depression (PND) is a type of mood disorder that can affect one in seven women following the birth of their baby. Unlike the ‘baby blues’ which usually passes on its own, PND can be long-lasting and can affect a person’s ability to cope with a new baby. 

Symptoms  

Symptoms of PND can develop gradually or within a short period of time and can include: 

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or low mood 
  • Changes in sleep and appetite 
  • Unexplained aches, pain, or illness 
  • Irritability or anger for no reason 
  • Sudden mood changes 
  • Poor concentration and difficulty remembering things 
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and hopelessness 
  • Recurrent thoughts of death and suicide 
  • Lack of pleasure in things that were earlier enjoyable 
  • Feeling disconnected with the baby 

Causes 

Postnatal depression (PND) is believed to be caused by a complex interplay of environmental, emotional, hormonal, and genetic factors. Hormonal changes after childbirth, such as a drop in hormone levels, can contribute to PND. Emotional factors, including stress from relationship issues or the demands of caring for a newborn, can also play a role. Genetic predisposition, as evidenced by a family history of depression, can increase the risk. Additionally, certain environmental factors, such as complications during childbirth or stressful events during pregnancy, can trigger PND. Substance use disorder is another potential contributing factor. 

Interventions 

Interventions for postnatal depression (PND) typically involve a combination of psychological therapies, medication, lifestyle changes, and support groups. Psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, counselling, and psychodynamic therapy can be effective in managing PND. Medications like antidepressants are often used to manage the symptoms. Lifestyle changes, including ensuring adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise, and overall support, can also be beneficial. Joining support groups can provide a platform to share feelings and experiences. Regular check-ins with healthcare providers are crucial for monitoring progress and adjusting treatment plans as necessary.