Tag Archives: postnatal depression

Does another mum need your help? It’s not always black and white…

Before I became a mum, I didn’t think I knew anyone who’d suffered from postnatal depression.

Now I see lots of people (mums and dads) who, whether they’ve had a diagnosis or not, seem to have one or more of the symptoms.

We’ve probably all experienced at least one of them at some stage, including;

  • Sleep disturbance unrelated to baby’s sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Crying – feeling sad and crying without apparent reason OR feeling like you want to cry but can’t
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed, out of control, unable to cope
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Negative obsessive thoughts
  • Fear of being alone OR withdrawing from family and friends
  • Memory difficulties and loss of concentration
  • Feeling guilty and inadequate
  • Loss of confidence and self-esteem

It’s not my place to diagnose anyone, but I do think being a mum increases your awareness of how tough the job can be.

Isn’t it odd that one of the most joyful experiences in life can be so damn difficult? It really is one of life’s great mysteries.

It’s post-natal depression awareness week, and the experts want us to know that it’s not always black and white.  Given most of us have bad days, there is a grey area where it’s hard to know whether you, or someone around you, need help.

PANDA (the Post and Ante Natal Depression Association) is the only specialist national organisation that raises community awareness of depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after birth (perinatal period); and provides support services to families to assist in their recovery.

Since having Miss Three, I have often wondered about friends and acquaintances who may be experiencing symptoms of postnatal depression.

I believe that too often we discount what mums are experiencing because ‘being a new mum is hard’ and ‘sleep deprivation is normal’.  Of course these are true, but they also make detecting and addressing depression a lot harder if you think whatever’s happening to you is normal.  If you’re also given the impression that everyone else has the same experience as you but seems to ‘cope’ better than you do, that makes seeking help a lot harder.

It’s tempting to barge right in and ask mums who are having a tough time how they feel and whether they need specific help, but sometimes the person isn’t a close friend so I’ve adopted a more subtle approach.  I often ask them how much help they have around them, and how they think they are coping.  Usually they know that something is wrong but they aren’t sure what it is, or what can be done about it.

I’ve suggested they mention how tough they’re finding it to an expert – and asked how they feel about talking to their GP or baby clinic.

Twice now, these people have made contact with me later to tell me that they did indeed mention it to an expert, who has referred them to services and they now seem much better, happier and more rested and are  enjoying motherhood significantly more.

I am very relieved, and couldn’t be happier for them.

Have you – or someone you know – ever  needed help?

Did you say something, or were you too worried?

Kirsten

If you are concerned that you are suffering from post natal depression, the  National Perinatal Depression Helpline 1300 726 306 which provides counseling and support to those living with depression and anxiety during pregnancy and after the birth of a baby. Operates 9-7pm Monday to Friday (EST)

Disclosure: PANDA invited me to a very lovely dinner in Sydney to discuss and learn about post-natal depression awareness week.   Thanks to them and the other bloggers for a lovely night out and all the great work they all do helping new mums.

There’s a lot of other good stuff from the blogosphere around on this at the moment.  Some great links are below.

Good Golly Miss Holly

Life On The Hill

Random Ramblings of a Stay At Home Mum

Denise Whelan.  Life’s Stories 

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Five ways working mums can take better care of their mental health

Guest post from Leilah Nelson.

Following the birth of my first child my greatest fear was suffering from depression. And being a psychologist I was always quick to self- diagnose!

My family and friends were my lifeline and since then I have never taken my mental health for granted and neither should you.  Yet statistics show that many of us might be ignoring the symptoms.

Of the two most common mental illnesses – depression and anxiety, women will experience them both in higher rates than men.

One in five women will experience depression while one in three will experience anxiety.

While genetics plays a part is determining your risk, others contributors include chronic health conditions, personality factors and stressful life events. Life events that can create major stressors are pregnancy, motherhood, menopause, and caring for elderly or unwell family members.

Women are at increased risk of experiencing depression during pregnancy and post child birth for up to a year. Nearly 10% of pregnant women will experience antenatal depression (during pregnancy) increasing to 16% experiencing postnatal depression in the 3 months post birth.

Working mums, while busy caring for others,  must be careful not to dismiss the signs and ignore the symptoms of mental health problems.

My tips for maintaining good emotional health while working and caring for your family:

  1. Cut your TO DO LIST in half. By reducing the daily tasks we expect ourselves to complete we can reduce our stress. Stress is a symptom of anxiety and depression. It can also be a catalyst for many physical related health problems. Remember your brain is an organ too and deserves care and attention.
  2. Maintain your SOCIAL NETWORKS, especially mothers group and playgroup. Consider the girls night out as sacred. Women, generally speaking, enjoy social communication, be it chatting with girlfriends or going to the movies or theatre. These exchanges allow us time to express our worries and fears and to reach out for support from the group.  Statistics show that you are less likely to suffer from depression if you have a strong social network to rely on.
  3. Prioritise YOUR TIME to do things that MAKE YOU HAPPY. Basically give yourself the permission and the freedom to do things you enjoy, FOR YOURSELF. Working mums are quick to prioritise the needs of their children, their partners, the housework, etc.  and often leave little or no time for themselves . Include regular EXERCISE into your routine. Maintaining exercise has been proven in reducing the affects of mental health.
  4. Take SHORTCUTS and don’t feel GUILTY about it. Often Mums feel pressure to be wife, chef, housemaid, cleaner, nanny, teacher, in short order. We can’t be all things but we can find more efficient ways of doing things (for me that involves employing a cleaner once a fortnight!) Finding a Work/Life BALANCE can help reduce our risk for mental illness.
  5. Don’t be AFRAID to SEEK HELP. GPs are becoming better trained at diagnosing mental health problems and quicker at referring to counselling services. Medicare will rebate up to 10 sessions with a counsellor if referred by your GP under the banner of mental health. Some employers have an employee assistance program (EAP) with free access to telephone or face-to-face counselling. A lot can be done to improve your mental health through life style changes but for some the answer is medical intervention. Simplified, anti-depressants assist with bringing a chemical balance back to the brain which then allows for counselling to be affective.

For further information on mental health, I have found the following sources useful:

-beyondblue 1300 224 636 (beyondblue.org.au)

-Lifeline  13 11 14 (lifeline.org.au)

-SANE 1800 187 263 (sane.org.au)

-Australian Psychological Society Referral line 1800 333 497 (psychology.org.au/findapsychologist)

Leilah Nelson

Thanks to Beyond Blue for references