5 min read

Jason Brien.

Have you given birth recently or know someone who has? If you have ever given birth yourself, how did you think and feel afterwards? Pregnancy and child birth can send a mothers hormones and emotions rushing. Expectant mothers can experience a wide range of thoughts and feelings from joy to happiness to fear and anxiety. Some mothers experience depression, sadness and emptiness during and after giving birth which is sometimes known as ‘The baby Blues’. 


For most of these mothers the sense of emptiness and sadness disappears in less than a week. For other other mothers however the depression, sadness and emptiness may linger for much longer and so they may be experiencing postpartum depression. The next list will show a range of symptoms that a parent with postpartum depression may experience. Remember though that not all parents will experience all or even some of these symptoms. It really depends on the individual.


  • Atypical crying and depressed mood or severe mood swings (emotional lability)
  • Perceived difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Social, familial and occupational withdrawal
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming and atypical fatigue or loss of energy
  • Diminished interest and pleasure in activities that you used to enjoy
  • Intense and atypical irritability and anger
  • Fear and anxiety about not being a good mother
  • Hopelessness and helplessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Reduced ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions (brain fog)
  • Restlessness and atypical impatience 
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide


It is important to recognise that fathers can also experience postpartum depression. Fathers may feel sad or fatigued, be overwhelmed, experience anxiety, or have changes in their usual eating and sleeping patterns which are the same symptoms mothers with postpartum depression experience. A genetic predisposition or history of depression makes both mothers and fathers more susceptible to postpartum depression.


How to manage and treat postpartum depression?


As always, treatment for postpartum depression is highly individualised and wholly dependent on the severity of the condition. Some women may consult with their GP or other mental health professional whereas others may seek comfort and support from their close friends and family. Medication and talk therapy combined can be extremely effective in the management and treatment of postpartum depression. 

Parents who have strong support networks are more resilient to postpartum depression than those with weak support networks. The ability for all parents to have time to themselves and engage in self-care is extremely important. This doesn’t imply though that single mothers or fathers with no support networks are going to develop postpartum depression it’s just that extra support is considered a ‘protective’ factor.


Parents who have strong support networks are more resilient to postpartum depression than those with weak support networks. The ability for all parents to have time to themselves and engage in self-care is extremely important. This doesn’t imply though that single mothers or fathers with no support networks are going to develop postpartum depression it’s just that extra support is considered a ‘protective’ factor.


Resources


https://www.webmd.com/depression/postpartum-depression/understanding-postpartum-depression-treatment


https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617


https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/postpartum-depression