Postnatal depression can be very upsetting, and many women feel like they should hide how they are feeling. It can lead some women to feel like they are not a good mother and they have fears about admitting how they are feeling. They often feel worried about asking for help.
Postnatal depression differs from the normal ‘baby blues’ as it continues for longer than the first week or two after birth. Women who have experienced postnatal depression describe symptoms including a feeling of sadness, a total lack of feeling, loss of interest in activities and perhaps a loss of interest in their baby. Other women have reported that they feel hopeless, cry a lot, cannot concentrate and are more forgetful. A general feeling of not being able to cope, high levels of anxiety and a lack of enjoyment of life are also common symptoms.
Postnatal depression can also lead to a loss of appetite or overeating, feeling unwell, losing sleep and panic attacks.
It's important to ask for help from a healthcare professional. Accessing support and treatment as soon as possible is important for recovery. You can speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP. If you’re not comfortable talking about how you are feeling, consider writing it down and asking a trusted friend, family member or your partner to speak to someone on your behalf. It’s important you don’t suffer alone.
Find out more here about accessing support for mental health conditions after the birth.
Psychosis is a condition where people perceive what’s going on around them very differently from others or have thoughts and beliefs which get in the way of normal life. It’s important for women and their families to be aware that although psychosis is rare, there is an increased chance in the first weeks after birth.
Some new mums may feel over-energised, euphoric and feeling they need little sleep. This is called the ‘baby pinks’ and can be a warning sign. For some women they are unable to concentrate and their behaviour is more impulsive or out of character.
If you have any concerns or worries, especially if you have previously had a mental health problem, then speak to your midwife or GP who can refer you for specialist support.