Coping with postnatal depression, symptoms you should be aware of, available help and treatment and advice on dealing with breastfeeding and the demands of a new baby.
Postnatal depression has many symptoms. Most mothers who have the illness find that they are less able to cope with the demands of the baby and of the home. Some mothers feel very despondent, they may feel sad, and cry frequently. Some mothers feel very anxious and fearful; they worry about their own health and that of the baby. They may suffer from panic attacks and feel tense and irritable all the time. Most depressed mothers feel tired and lack energy, often they feel unable to concentrate and they find even simple tasks are confusing and demand too much energy.
Some mothers experience pains for which there is no cause, other than tension and anxiety, many suffer difficulty in sleeping and poor appetite. Many depressed mothers lose interest in sex. A depressed mother may suffer from any or all of the symptoms mentioned. Most mothers who have this illness feel guilty that they are not 'coping' as they feel they should be.
If your depression lasts longer than a few days you should discuss your feelings with your doctor. If possible take your partner or a friend with you. Before you see the doctor write a list of all the symptoms you are suffering from. You should not go on suffering depression in the hope that it will go away. Postnatal depression is a real illness and it can be treated successfully with antidepressants, these drugs are not addictive, they make unpleasant symptoms fade until they go completely.
After you have seen the doctor, you may find it helpful to talk to an understanding and sympathetic member of your family or friend. If your friend understands that you will recover completely and be your 'old self again when you are better, then he or she can be a real source of comfort and reassurance to you.
Your midwife and health visitor can also give you reassurance advice and
support. It is important to remember that all mothers recover from postnatal
depression. As the recovery proceeds, the bad days get fewer and less
upsetting and the good days become more numerous. Gradually the bad
days disappear completely.
Although it may be difficult to rest when you have a demanding baby and perhaps other children to care for, it does help to rest as much as possible if you are suffering from depression. You will find that you feel worse if you are overtired. Ask a partner or a friend to care for the baby whilst you have a proper rest, preferably in the middle of the day. A rest in the day often improves sleeping at night for those with sleeping difficulties. Try also to eat a small meal or have a hot sweet drink at regular intervals, many depressed mothers forget to eat and this can make the depression symptoms feel worse.
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