Signs of PND

It can be difficult to recognise the signs of postnatal depression (PND), simply because we think they are “normal” during the period of adjustment following the arrival of a new baby.

Although sleep deprivation, tiredness, difficulties in concentrating and low mood can be common during this period, if it lasts for longer than two weeks and starts interfering with your day to day functioning (ie your ability to leave the house, look after yourself or your baby, or negatively impacts on your relationship/s), then it may be time to seek some help.

signs of postnatal depression MH

As a general rule, anxiety or depression that starts at some stage during the twelve months following birth, is called postnatal anxiety or depression. According to PANDA, it is estimated to affect as many as one in seven women following the birth of a child.

Common Signs of PND

Some of the signs of PND to be aware of, and to be alert for (in either yourself or somebody you know), include:

  • Persistent worry
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness or feeling ‘on edge’
  • Muscle tension
  • Tightness in chest
  • Heart palpitations
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Low or flat mood, or mood swings
  • Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Social withdrawal
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor memory
  • Low motivation
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Difficulty bonding, or a feeling of disconnectedness from your baby
  • Obsessive thoughts and/or images
  • Thoughts of harming self, others, or the baby.

What About Postpartum Psychosis

Fortunately, postpartum psychosis is rare and occurs in 1 or 2 in 1000 mothers. It involves a break with reality characterised by hallucinations or delusions, and most often involves thoughts of harming yourself or the baby. It usually appears in the first 48 hours to 2 weeks after childbirth, but can potentially appear up to 12 weeks after birth (beyondblue).

This condition is very serious and can pose a significant danger to both the mother and baby. It is important that if you think you or someone you know could be experiencing postpartum psychosis, that you seek help via your GP or hospital as soon as possible.

Treatment for PND

There are many treatment options available for mothers struggling with PND, including maintaining a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and participating in enjoyable activities are great ways to improve your mood and ensure positive self-care.

However, sometimes these alone are not enough. Seeing a registered psychologist who can provide strategies to identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts, sit with difficult emotions, and be more present in every moment can be helpful. In some cases, anti-depressant medication can be beneficial to assist with balancing chemicals in the brain and managing some of the symptoms that make it difficult to change behaviours.

If you have noticed the signs of PND in either your own life or somebody you love, it is important to seek help.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE HAVING THOUGHTS OF HARMING THEMSELVES, SOMEONE ELSE, OR THEIR BABY PLEASE SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY BY CONTACTING LIFELINE ON 13 11 14, Emergency on 000, OR SEEING YOUR GP FOR A REFERRAL TO A PROFESSIONAL.

Amanda Hansen PsychologistAuthor: Amanda Hansen, B Psych, MAPS.

Amanda Hansen is a psychologist with nearly a decade of experience in working with adults, adolescents, and couples experiencing a range of life challenges. Amanda is passionate about helping her clients develop therapeutic goals, and working together to achieve lasting change.

To make an appointment, freecall 1800 877 924 or you can book Amanda Hansen online now.