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Post-Natal Depression or Anxiety

Postnatal Depression (PND) or Postpartum Anxiety (PPA) are mental health conditions that occur after childbirth, impacting not just new mothers but also fathers and non-birthing parents. PND and PPA are often under-recognized and under-treated, despite being fairly common occurrences in the postnatal period.

PND is characterized by a prolonged period of emotional disturbance, occurring at any time within the first year after childbirth. It often includes feelings of sadness, low energy, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, reduced desire for sex, crying episodes, anxiety, and irritability. In severe cases, it may also involve thoughts of self-harm or harm to the baby.

PPA, on the other hand, involves excessive worrying, often about the baby's health and wellbeing, restlessness, and a feeling of being on edge. Like PND, it can occur at any time within the first year after childbirth.

Both these conditions go beyond the 'baby blues,' which is a brief period of mood swings, tearfulness, and feeling overwhelmed, usually resolving within two weeks after delivery. According to the DSM-5, the defining factor for PND and PPA is the duration and impact on daily functioning, typically lasting for at least two weeks and causing significant distress or functional impairment.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) also recognize these conditions, emphasizing their impact on global health.

f feelings of sadness, anxiety, or worry persist beyond the first two weeks after childbirth.
• When these feelings intensify over time instead of getting better.
• If you struggle to care for yourself or your baby due to these feelings.
• When you find it hard to sleep, even when the baby is asleep.
• If you have thoughts of self-harm or harm to the baby.
• When feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or hopelessness take hold.

Postnatal depression and anxiety are serious conditions. They don't indicate weakness or a lack of love for the baby. Rather, they're complications of childbirth, influenced by a complex interaction of hormonal, environmental, and psychological factors. If you or a loved one are experiencing these feelings, it's crucial to seek professional support as early as possible.

Psychologists play a crucial role in the treatment of PND and PPA. Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) are well-validated treatments for these conditions.

CBT involves identifying and modifying unhelpful thought patterns and behaviors, while IPT focuses on improving interpersonal relationships and social support networks, critical areas often impacted in the postnatal period.

Additionally, psychoeducation is a vital component of treatment. Understanding that PND and PPA are not failures but treatable health conditions can alleviate guilt and promote recovery.

Group therapy can also be beneficial, offering a space to connect with others experiencing similar challenges, reducing feelings of isolation. For severe cases, psychologists can work in tandem with psychiatrists, who can assess the need for and oversee pharmacological treatment.

Overall, our role as psychologists is to offer a safe, supportive, and non-judgmental space to explore your feelings, fears, and hopes, and to work collaboratively towards improved wellbeing.

If you, or a loved one, are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or unusually low after the arrival of a new baby, it's important to remember that you're not alone, and help is available. Our team of empathetic and experienced psychologists are here to support you through this challenging time. Reach out to us today. It's the first step towards a happier, healthier you and a brighter future for your family.

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