Prenatal and Postnatal Depression
Having a baby is such a source of happiness but, it is also quite normal for some women to go through a brief period where she feels emotional and tearful (baby blues). This can however, develop into a deeper and longer-term depression called prenatal (antenatal) or postnatal (postpartum) depression.
At least one in ten new and expecting mothers goes through prenatal (antenatal) or postnatal (postpartum) depression; it can come on gradually or suddenly, be mild or hard hitting. Far too often new mothers are afraid to speak to someone, struggling in silence. These postnatal depression symptoms can be resolved but are likely to become more serious if not addressed so please seek treatment at the earliest signs of postpartum depression.
Our treatment approach for prenatal & postnatal depression
There are two types of treatment available for prenatal (antenatal) or postnatal (postpartum) depression: talking therapies and medication. Counselling and psychotherapy offer the opportunity to look at the underlying factors that have contributed to your depression, as well as helping you to change the way you feel and CBT can provide practical strategies for dealing with specific problems you are facing.Complimentary therapies such as relaxation, meditation, massage and yoga can also support your postnatal depression talking therapies.
Medication can be effective if your prenatal (antenatal) or postnatal (postpartum) depression is severe or goes on for a long time. It may help you to feel less anxious and cope better with day to day life. However, some medication is known to effect infants if you are breastfeeding so it is important to discuss this with your doctor.
Prenatal & Postnatal depression treatment tailored to you
Our prenatal (antenatal) or postnatal (postpartum) depression treatments here at Nightingale Hospital London can be as an outpatient, day patient or inpatient. We have the expertise to approach the support and treatment we offer you through your postnatal depression in a personal and flexible way to benefit you the most in your recovery.
Prenatal & Postnatal depression specialists
Nightingale Hospital London has a number of Consultant Psychiatrists and Therapists that can help you through your postnatal depression. It is vital you find a postnatal depression specialist that you can trust and work with on your recovery. If you cannot find the information you need on postnatal depression specialists and postnatal depression treatment programmes we would welcome your call so you feel secure in the decisions you make.
Symptoms of Postnatal Depression
You may go through one or more of the following experiences:
- Feeling very low, or despondent, thinking that nothing is any good, that life is a long, grey tunnel, and that there is no hope
- Feeling tired and very lethargic, or even quite numb. Not wanting to do anything or take an interest in the outside world
- A sense of inadequacy and feeling unable to cope
- Feeling guilty about not coping or about not loving the baby enough
- Being unusually irritable which makes the guilt worse
- Wanting to cry
- Losing your appetite
- Difficulty sleeping: not getting to sleep, waking early, having vivid nightmares
- Being hostile or indifferent to your husband or partner
- Being hostile or indifferent to your baby
- Losing interest in sex
- Having panic attacks
- Overpowering anxiety often about things that wouldn’t normally bother you, such as being alone in the house
- Difficulty in concentrating or making decisions
- Physical symptoms such as stomach pains, headaches and blurred vision
- Obsessive fears about the baby’s health or wellbeing or about yourself and other members of the family
- Thoughts about death
Thoughts about death can be very frightening, and may make you feel as if you are going mad or completely out of control. It’s important to realise that having these thoughts doesn’t mean that you are actually going to harm yourself or your children, although this does happen very occasionally. However difficult it is, the more you can bring these feelings out into the open and talk about them with someone you trust, the less likely you will be to act on them.
PND is assessed, usually by health visitors, using a questionnaire called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. This is completed by the mother usually within the first two months after the birth.
What causes Postnatal Depression?
Postpartum depression can happen whatever your family circumstances, and whether or not the baby is your first. There is no one cause for postpartum depression, but a number of different possibilities have been put forward:
- The shock of becoming a mother
- Changed relationships
- Help with adjusting
- Lack of support
- Other stresses to cope with
- Difficult labour
- Changes to your body
- Hormonal upheaval
- Childhood experiences
- Perinatal depression
What can I do to help myself get better?
PND usually gets better in time, although it may take up to a year. Love, support and nurture from family, friends and community can be vital in helping you to cope. The following can help:
- Someone to talk to
- Meeting other parents
- Take care of yourself
- Learn to relax
How can family and friends help?
It may be difficult, upsetting and frustrating to live with someone who has PND, but it’s important not to blame them for how they are feeling. Be prepared to seek help from wherever you can, both for yourself and for the depressed mother. Perhaps the most important thing to recognise is that someone suffering from PND may need encouragement to seek help, and support to get it. Help her to find someone to talk to in depth, and reassure her that she is not going mad and that she will get better.
Make sure she knows that you will support her, and not abandon her. Practical steps include helping her to get enough food, rest and exercise. Try to ensure that she doesn’t spend much time alone to cope with the baby. A sense of isolation can be the most stressful aspect of mothering. Support the idea that she deserves to have a daily treat and enable her to get it. One way might be to offer her a massage. This is a great help in promoting relaxation and restoring a sense of wellbeing.
Try to find out as much as you can about postnatal depression, and, if necessary, be prepared to fight for more resources. Be prepared to talk about it, so that the problem does not remain invisible.
The following will make her depression worse:
- Telling her to pull herself together. She is already feeling bad about herself, and doing her best
- Walking out on her, however difficult or impossible she is
- Leaving her alone with the baby for long periods
- Giving her alcohol or encouraging her to drink too much
For more information visit www.mind.org.uk
Please contact us confidentially on 020 7535 7700, 24 hours a day or enquire online
- Dr Christopher Muller-Pollard View profile
- Dr Mahen Jhugroo View profile
- Dr Lee Jones View profile
- Dr Anne Cremona View profile