What is it

Having a baby can bring a great deal of challenge, fatigue and adjustment. Additionally, the majority of mothers (up to 80%) experience the baby blues within ten days of the birth of their baby. This is triggered by hormonal changes following birth and typically involves tearfulness, irritability, emotional sensitivity, mood swings and feeling overwhelmed. It is important that women seek social support while experiencing the baby blues, which will usually pass within a few days.

For some women (up to one in seven), they will experience difficult feelings that last longer (a couple of weeks or more), are likely to be more intense, and have a greater impact on their life than the baby blues. These are signs of post-natal depression.

What it includes

Post-natal depression can be brought on by a combination of factors and does not mean that you are a bad mother. Typically, symptoms of post-natal depression start between one month and twelve months post-birth and can include:

• Feeling sad, low, flat and/or irritable
• Feeling hopeless, helpless and/or worthless
• Excessive worry
• Not wanting to see people, go out or talk to people
• No longer enjoying activities that were previously pleasurable
• Inability or low motivation to carry out daily tasks, including caring for the baby
• Changes in appetite and hunger
• Changes in sleep (too much or too little – not explained by caring for the baby)
• Thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, or wanting to run away and escape. If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby, seek help immediately. (https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support)

Women can also experience these symptoms of depression during their pregnancy. This is called ante-natal depression.

Pregnancy, birth and adjustment to parenting can trigger a range of emotional experiences and it’s normal to find this challenging at times. However if you feel that your wellbeing is being negatively impacted, it might be a sign that you could benefit from professional support.

How can a psychologist help

Author

Dr Lauren Hamilton

If you require additional information please call our office on 32566320. Our mental health focused administration staff will be able to assist you with your enquiry about our service and assist you with linking you with the most suitable Psychologist.