Perinatal / Postnatal Depression
What is Perinatal/Postnatal Depression?
This is a type of depression than can occur during pregnancy or within 12 months of a baby being born. It occurs in 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men. 1 in 1000 may develop a psychosis, with hallucinations and delusions. While there is an expectation that have a baby is exciting, for many people it is daunting and can bring on feeling of sadness, loneliness and worry. For others it can mean mood swings, anger and loss of focus. Some people withdraw from their friends and family and even think about harming themselves.
How do I know if I have it?
Perinatal/Postnatal depression does not have a separate DSM V criterion but is considered under the Depression diagnosis. It is the relationship to being pregnant and being within 12 months of the birth of child that assists with differentiation. There is an increased risk of harm to mother or father and baby. There are several websites that can assist with assessing if you have Perinatal/Postnatal depression. They include:
If you are not able to take these tests or remain concerned, please contact your GP.
How does this happen?
There are a lot of reason that this can happen. If a person has had a mental illness previously, poor coping styles or there are issues within relationships, then there is an increased risk of developing Perinatal/Postnatal depression. Other risk factors include:
- Previous abuse; physical, sexual or emotional
- Poor social support
- Previous loss of pregnancy
- Difficult childbirth
- A baby that is hard to settle, feed or sick
If you have experienced the above it does not mean that you will develop Perinatal/Postnatal depression, but it does increase the risk If you or you have a friend that you are concerned about then please discuss this with your GP.
How do I fix it?
It is important to get assistance as soon a possible. If you are concerned please visit your GP. They will discuss what is happening and complete an assessment. They may suggest a variety of methods to help. They should suggest cognitive behaviour therapy, either with the GP or via a psychologist. Other talking therapies with a psychologist may also be used, such as psychotherapy and group therapy. The GP will ask a number of questions to ensure your and the baby’s safety. They may suggest support services to help you over the difficult periods to get you back on your feet.
Medications are sometime used. When considering medication use, the doctor will consider the benefit to the person and the influence the medication may have on the baby. They will discuss the risks and benefits of such treatment with you prior to commencement.
Postnatal psychosis is a serious condition, one that should be assessed and treated by specialists. If you re concerned about yourself, due to odd thoughts, hearing or seeing things that should not be there or you feel that everyone is against you, or you are concerned by a friend’s behaviour please contact a doctor immediately. This is an emergency that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Where can I get more information?
The following websites can assist with further information or see your GP.