Post natal depression is estimated to occur in 1 in 10 mothers. Symptoms can appear up to a year after the birth, but more usually appear within the early months. Recognising postnatal depression is not straight forward. It is indicated by a number of symptoms - the mix will vary between individuals, but usually includes some mix or all of the following;
Depression; You may feel low, unhappy and wretched for much of the time. Occasional good days give you hope but they are followed by bad days which make you despair. You may be quite tearful.
Irritable; You may get irritable with other children, possibly your baby, but most often with your partner.
Sleepless; Sleep disturbance is part of looking after a new baby. It may be hard to go to sleep even though you are tired, or waking early in the morning.
Not hungry; You can lose your appetite and forget to eat, which can make you feel irritable and run down. Some people eat for comfort and then feel unhappy about weight gain.
Lethargic; you may feel unmotivated and unable to perform everyday tasks; even looking after yourself and the baby may seem an impossible chore
Tired; All new mothers get tired but depression can make you feel so utterly exhausted that you feel physically ill.
Unable to cope; you may feel you have no time, can't do anything well, and that you can't do anything about it. You may find it hard to organise a routine with your baby or cope with normal routines.
Guilty; mothers may feel guilty that they should be able to cope; Depression changes your thinking and makes you see things negatively. You may feel guilty, useless or that you are responsible for feeling like this.
Anxiety; You may worry so much that your baby might scream, or choke, or be harmed in some way that you are afraid to be alone with him or her. Instead of feeling close to your baby, you may feel detached. Panic attacks can occur.
Sex; Your partner may want the intimacy of sex – but you're not interested.
There is no exact combination of symptoms; every woman is unique in the way this may present itself. But postnatal depression is treatable which is important to remember. If you think that you may be experiencing PND, do go and have a chat with your Midwife, GP or Healthvisitor who will be able to offer you support. Try and engage the support of your partner and close family & friends.