3 weeks ago · lizzie · 0 comments
How To Know If You’re Suffering With Postpartum Depression or Anxiety
One of the positive aspects of modern life is the heightened awareness of mental health conditions – including postpartum depression (also known as postnatal depression). According to the Centre for Disease Control, approximately 11-20% of women who have given birth in the United States experience postpartum depression each year. Other countries like Australia display similar statistics. Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) notes approximately 1 in 10 women and 1 in 20 men experience antenatal depression (anxiety and depression during pregnancy) and approximately 1 in 7 new mums and 1 in 10 new dads experience postnatal depression each year in Australia. However, despite these statistics, only a small proportion of individuals suffering from postpartum or antenatal depression and/or anxiety seek professional help.
Why Do So Many Mothers Avoid Seeking Help?
There are a range of reasons why mothers do not seek help for anxiety and depression either in pregnancy or after birth. The main reason many mothers report is the stigma associated with admitting a mother is not coping, or is not experiencing the euphoria ‘meant’ to be experienced when becoming a mother, especially if a woman has been wanting to fall pregnant for some time. Mothers are expected to be full of energy, happy, besotted and in control during motherhood, but this is ideal of the Perfect Mum, is often very far removed from every day life. However, when mothers suffer in silence, they leave themselves open to trying other coping mechanisms, such as slef medicating with drugs and alcohol to cope and potentially living with lifelong depression and anxiety.
What are some of the symptoms of Postpartum Depression?
The MAYO Clinic identifies the following symptoms that are often associated with postpartum depression (mothers may experience some or all of these symptoms during their depression):
- loss of appetite
- intense irritability
- difficulty bonding with the baby
- negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, guilt, hopelessness, panic attacks
- loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- emotions reactions such as crying, restlessness, depression, fear
- weight gain or weight loss
- lack of concentration
What Causes Postpartum Depression?
There are three main causes of postpartum depression:
- Hormonal Changes after childbirth (e.g. a drop in oestrogen and progesterone resulting in feeling tired, sluggish and depressed)
- Emotional changes (e.g. being sleep deprived, coping with external pressures/stress, feeling overwhelmed)
- Expectations not being met
Becoming a new mum can be a shock, particularly if expectations about motherhood do not match reality. This issue has been heightened in modern life due to the influence and exposure to the mass media and social media. Mothers in general spend a significant proportion of time on social media like Facebook and as a result social comparison easily influences a mother’s perspective of how well she is coping. Social media provides a very skewed perspective of people’s lives, mainly because people tend to post the good times in their lives. So very quickly you can look at someone’s profile and assume they are always looking healthy, happy, energise, always having fun and very socially connected. In addition to this, famous mums can give the misconception of being the ‘Perfect Mum’, because they are shown looking immaculate, with beautifully decorated houses, perfectly dressed children, in healthy relationships and looking energised and happy. This may be true of a portion of their lives, but it is not a true picture of their reality. Famous mums like Blake Lively have had to refute publicly comments that her life is perfect, because her Instagram posts give this perception. Unfortunately, when you’re a mum and you feel tired, your baby won’t sleep easily, you’re having problems breastfeeding and this is all taking a toll on your relationship, you can quickly compare yourself to this ‘perception’ of reality and (incorrectly) feel like a failure.
So What Can You Do If You’re Experiencing Depression or Anxiety in Pregnancy or Motherhood?
You are not alone. Don’t wait until your symptoms worsen. If you identified with any of these symptoms described above, please seek help as soon as possible. Don’t struggle alone.
You can start by accessing these FREE ONLINE RESOURCES
- Download a FREE Chapter of the Book ‘Perfect Mum: How To Survive The Emotional Rollercoaster Of Motherhood’
- Grab the FREE Clinical Guide from the Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE) website
- Visit the Information and Support Section of the PANDA website
- Talk to your GP about potential medical or counselling options to support your needs
Seek Help Immediate
If you or your partner are at immediate risk of harm call 000 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.