12 Oct Baby Blues or Something more serious? Post-natal Depression and Anxiety .
New Parents are hit with a barrage of mixed emotions from elation to tears, raging chemicals and hormones, sleep deprivation and hefty new responsibilities. It is normal to feel worried, out of your depth, confused and exhausted at times. Pregnancy and child birth are major life changing events and it would be more unusual not to experience these feelings.
The Baby Blues tend to last for a short period of time, generally between the 2nd and 10th day and is characterized by increased tearfulness, anxiety and irritability. The intensity of these feelings tends to resolve quickly with support. More than 50% of new mothers go through an adjustment period such as this.
But when do the normal ups and downs of parenthood morph into more serious mental health issues such as Post Natal Depression and Anxiety? Feeling overwhelmed, sad and anxious most days for a two-week period, coupled with lack of joy in your new baby might indicate a mood or anxiety disorder is developing. However, not everyone experiences the symptoms the same way.
PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia ) provide excellent online resources and list several symptoms that may indicate the development of PND.
- Panic attacks (a racing heart, palpitations, shortness of breath, shaking or feeling ‘detached’)
- Persistent, generalised worry, often focused on fears for the health or wellbeing of baby
- The development of obsessive or compulsive behaviours
- Increased sensitivity to noise or touch
- Changes in appetite: under or overeating
- Sleep problems unrelated to the baby’s needs
- Extreme lethargy: a feeling of being physically or emotionally overwhelmed and unable to cope with the demands of chores and looking after baby
- Memory problems or loss of concentration (‘brain fog’)
- Loss of confidence and lowered self esteem
- Constant sadness or crying
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Fear of being alone with baby
- Intrusive thoughts of harm to yourself or baby
- Irritability and/or anger
- Increased alcohol or drug use
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
Most people will not experience all of these symptoms and there is variation in individuals. Please seek help if you experience these symptoms.
Motherhood is a skilful, demanding and exhausting role that takes practise and experience. Societal expectations, breast versus bottle, celebrity post baby bodies, sleep training vs attachment parenting and reflux babies are just some of the issues that can get the better of us. Experiencing depression or anxiety does not make you a “bad mother” and will not cause lifelong issues for your child. However, recognizing these symptoms and seeking support could help you enjoy your baby more, reduce the stress in your life and improve your emotional well-being and relationship with your baby.
Please book an appointment with an experienced Psychologist if you need support adjusting to parenthood or you require an assessment for post-natal depression or anxiety.
Helpful Resources and Further Reading