Postnatal Depression

Postnatal Depression (PND) is not something to be ashamed of. It should be seen as one of the many complications of pregnancy and delivery. With appropriate help, women with PND do recover. It is extremely important for women and their partners to learn to recognise the signs and symptoms of PND so that they can ask for help as early as possible.

Becoming a mother is major life change, and this adjustment process can be an extremely difficult challenge. Postnatal depression (PND) is a common illness. It affects approximately 16% of new mothers in Australia. It is also important to note that men can experience PND too.

PND can vary greatly in its severity, and therefore its treatments.

The following are common experiences after giving birth:

  • Mild depression
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of concentration, confusion, and poor memory
  • At times feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of being a new parent, caring for your baby, and feeding and settling issues.

When experiencing PND, some people report feeling some of the following symptoms for a prolonged period of over 7 days:

  • Feeling trapped or out of control
  • Extreme anxiety surrounding the health and safety of your baby, and leaving the house.
  • Feeling very alone
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Tearful through most parts of the day
  • Feeling unable to cope  when looking after baby and self
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Obsessive thoughts about ability as a mother and fear of harming baby or self.
  • Compulsive behaviour such as hand washing
  • Self blame/guilt
  • Thoughts about death and suicide

This is not a complete list of the symptoms of PND.

Some possible causes of PND are:

  • A stressful pregnancy and/or traumatic birth
  • Past-history of Anxiety and Depression
  • Difficulty Breastfeeding
  • Lack of emotional, financial, or physical support
  • Having an unsettled baby (difficulties sleeping, feeding etc)


PND can be difficult to identify due to society’s stigma towards depresssion along with a lack of real life images of a new baby being portrayed in the media. In reality, having a baby certainly isn’t always like a Huggies commercial. We need to identify and assist those who suffer with PND symptoms as it can have devastating effects on families.

If you identify experiencing symptoms of PND, it is important to visit your GP who may prescribe you medication and/or refer you to see a Registered Psychologist. Psychological counselling can make a significant difference in managing the symptoms of PND.  A Psychologist will assist you to change negative and unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviours, and help you to understand why you feel the way you do. To discuss options please call Forward Thinking Psychology on 0413 600 094 or email