Most moms expect to be happy when their babies are born. Imagine feeling worse than ever before, not even wanting to see the baby, and feeling guilty on top of it all.
Until recently, people who suffered from depression were simply told to “pull themselves together”. Only in the last few decades has depression been recognised for the serious and debilitating condition that it is. But post-natal depression is still shrouded in mystery.
I’m supposed to be happy
The birth of a healthy baby is supposed to be one of life’s happiest events. The crippling effects of post-natal depression (PND) are made so much worse by the feeling that one is being cheated of a very basic human right – the joy of motherhood.
Doesn’t everyone get the blues?
Blues affect between 30 - 80% of women who have given birth and can include tearfulness, mood swings, tiredness and muddled thinking. In most cases re-assurance and sympathy are enough to dispel these feelings, which are often associated with changes in hormonal levels, but with PND, the symptomsdeepen and persist.
“Even though most people won’t say it to your face, they kind of look down on you for getting PND... as if I asked for it!”, a mother writes to the PND support forum. Proper diagnosis and treatment is important and moms struggling with PND can get additional help from various support groups.
Not only moms affected
Because there is no single cause of PND, some adoptive mothers, and even fathers, can suffer from this condition. Apart from hormonal changes, here are some of the other factors that can contribute to PND:
- Being a perfectionist
- Lack of support
- A traumatic birth
- Financial and other stress
- An unsatisfactory relationship with the baby's father
- A previous history of depression