23 Feb Perinatal Depression: A struggle for many mums
What is Perinatal Depression?
These days, we typically refer to the term Perinatal Depression rather than ‘Postnatal’, as many mothers find themselves struggling in the antenatal period, or the period before the baby is born. Difficulties coping can occur after the baby is born, or throughout the entire period.
Symptoms of Perinatal Depression
Some mothers feel very anxious and agitated, full of worry and concern about their baby’s health, weight, or perhaps the quality of their own mothering. Others become unable to sleep and quickly become more and more exhausted. Many just do not feel as though they are coping.
Some mothers may become socially isolated. Partners or family members may work long hours and there seems to be a lot of time spent just with a baby. Relationships may suffer as the demands of mothering infants take precedence over many other relationships. People may be on a shorter fuse as fatigue and feeling overwhelmed makes them more reactive. There is a lot to adjust to. No matter how rewarding people find this stage of life, it can become really stressful.
Perinatal depression is a common struggle and is different for all who experience it and for some, it can be very severe. Sometimes things may just not seem right, or it may feel too difficult to adjust to the changes in your life. In some cases, those suffering from perinatal or postnatal depression have conflicted feelings. Their low moods are made worse by thoughts that they may not be doing a good enough job, or that they aren’t good mothers, usually accompanied by strong feelings of guilt, or shame. In some cases there may be thoughts about self-harm or harming the child. These symptoms can be very difficult to deal with, and bring about a lot of emotions. It is important that to let people know as soon as you notice that something might not be right.
Treatment for Perinatal Depression
Let family, close friends and your GP or obstetrician know what you are going through early. They will become an invaluable support and your doctors first concern will be to make sure you are ok. Many new mothers, even those with severe symptoms, hide what they are going through for fear of judgment, or from unfounded fears that their babies may be taken off them. This will not happen. Trust that things will get better. Know that these feelings do not make you a bad mother. With a strong and professional team around, you and your baby will feel supported and safe.
Consulting a Psychologist
Treatments can be on an individual basis, or within a facilitated therapeutic group. Our team has conducted many time-limited groups, and the participants have consistently stated they really valued these experiences.
Apart from regaining their sense of control and well-being, women value the new friendships formed in groups months, and years after the formal part of the group has finished. And their babies become friends with each other as well.