Postnatal depression is more common than you think. This condition affects 1 in 10 women in Singapore, and is responsible for about 6.8% of depression cases. Noticing the signs before they get worse is the key to tackling it.
What is postnatal depression?
Most women will experience postnatal blues after childbirth. Postnatal blues refer to the irritability, anxiousness, mood swings and fearfulness new mothers tend to experience after childbirth. However, these symptoms usually last up to two weeks. Postnatal depression tends to begin a few months after giving birth, but can also appear as early as during pregnancy or as late as a year after childbirth.
The symptoms to look out for
Unlike postnatal blues, these symptoms can interfere with daily life and taking care of the baby. These symptoms include:
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
- Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Intense irritability and anger
- Fear that you’re not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
- Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
If left untreated, these symptoms may persist for many months and take a toil on mental health and wellbeing.
When should I see a doctor?
It may be embarrassing to seek help, but your mental health and wellbeing is a priority during this period. Getting proper treatment is the key to overcoming postnatal depression. Having a strong support system is also important to support you through this critical period.
You should definitely seek help if your symptoms persist and are interfering with your ability to care for yourself and/or your baby. If you have thoughts of harming yourself or the baby, or suicidal thoughts, please seek immediate help from a doctor.
Remember not to be too hard on yourself — you are strong and beautiful! Take some time off for some self-care or a postnatal massage that’ll help relieve some stress for sure.
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