By Melissa Dale
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.
PND can vary greatly in its severity, and therefore its treatments. Psychological Therapy and Medication are two methods that can be used to effectively treat PND. A combination of both methods is sometimes required. The decision to commence medication is entirely up to the individual, and should be made after considering both the risks and benefits. In severe cases, treatment in hospital can be necessary in order to assist mothers to recover from PND.
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 in 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 symtoms 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
- Past history of abuse
- Having an unsettled baby (difficulties sleeping, feeding etc)
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. The GP can write up a Mental Health Care Plan which will enable you to claim a Medicare rebate of $80.20 when seeing a Registered Psychologist for up to 12 individual sessions (18 in exceptional circumstances). 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 0487 320 133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
0487 320 133