Post Natal Depression (PND) affects about 1 in 5 moms who have had a baby. Having a baby is a huge life change, and it is normal for a new mom (or mom to a few children) to feel overwhelmed by the changes in her body, hormones, emotions and routine. How do you know if what you are feeling is normal, or if it can be classified as PND? Read further for more on PND, how to recognise the symptoms, and what to do if you do have PND.
SYMPTOMS OF PND
A few symptoms of PND include:
- Feeling depressed:
you may feel low, blue and aimless, at the same time every day, morning or evening, for example.
- Unable to enjoy things:
you may feel that you don’t enjoy being with your baby, and may feel guilty about that. You may stop enjoying things you previously used to enjoy.
- Thinking negative thoughts:
depression changes how you process things, and how you think. You may think negatively about situations in your life, feel that you aren’t being a good enough parent, that your baby doesn’t like you, that you can’t handle life.
- Feeling anxious:
you may feel anxious about things related to your baby – if you are feeding it enough, if it is healthy and happy; you may worry about yourself – that you will never feel better, or if you are not good enough to be a parent.
- Feeling suicidal:
you may feel like you just can’t cope any longer, and want ‘out’.
- Avoiding other people:
you may lose interest in being with friends and family, or feel too overwhelmed or exhausted to want to be around company, and want to withdraw. You may also feel ashamed of your ‘low’ and be unsure of how to deal with it around others.
HOW TO DEAL WITH PND
PND can be a daunting thing to process, if you are diagnosed with it, but know that you aren’t alone, and that many moms have it too. Here are some tips on dealing with it, to help make it easier to live through:
- Connect with other people:
don’t be afraid or ashamed to talk to friends and family about your feelings. You will most likely find a lot of them will be able to relate to some of what you are feeling and thinking. Connecting with others also helps you get out of your deep thoughts, and feel part of the world. There’s nothing quite like connecting with others; it’s healing in a way.
- Get enough sleep:
sleep deprivation only aggravates PND symptoms, so try to get in as much sleep as you can, and take up offers of help from friends and family. Try and get naps in too if you can.
- Get exercise:
exercise naturally boosts your mood, and getting out in the sunshine and fresh air, while walking, for example, will keep your energy levels up, keep you fitter and get you active and out of the house for a bit.
- Eat healthily:
take care of yourself – you don’t need to necessarily cook up a storm, but choose foods that are healthy and that give you energy, as opposed to fast foods and quick snacks that aren’t nutritious. Keep off mood-spiking sugary foods and carbs that give you a mood-drop later.
A good book to get on helping you through PND is on amazon: The Postnatal Survival Guide.
MAINTAINING YOUR NEW HABITS
Learning to deal with your PND in a healthy way is something that ideally will be come a habit. Learn to love yourself through this time, prioritize yourself and your health on every level. Prioritize making friends, asking for help, eating and exercising well, and being kind to yourself on hard days, and in tough moments. Remember that you are not alone, even though you may feel that you are!