What is Postnatal Depression?
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PND, or postnatal depression, is a recognised medical condition, distinct from the 'baby blues'. It can occur anytime during the first year of your baby's life, most typically between four and six months. The causes are complex, and different for every sufferer. Adjustment to the change in circumstances, the shock of your baby's absolute dependency on you, hormonal changes, or a lack of support are popular suggested reasons for being susceptible to the condition, but there may be many more besides. Many women who are suffering from PND do not readily seek help for fear of being judged, but, given that one in seven mums with young children are thought to have the condition, there is no real reason to hide away. Seeking and accepting help is the key to getting back to your old self. If you suspect you may be a PND sufferer, check out this useful symptom description list on the MIND website.
How is it different to the 'baby blues'?
Distinguishing baby blues and PND is primarily a question of assessing the length and severity of the symptoms. Baby blues usually begin within the first five days of the birth of your baby, and typically last for just a few days. Symptoms included feeling tearful, anxious, fearful, unable to sleep and lacking appetite. Most medical practitioners link baby blues to a dramatic shift in hormone levels that occurs in the days following delivery. Most doctors won't feel concerned about a case of baby blues, but they will monitor your situation for signs of PND establishing itself.
How is it different to puerperal psychosis?
Puerperal psychosis is a severe mental health condition caused by childbirth. Every case is different, but most sufferers find themselves undergoing delusions and hallucinations, as well as feeling significant levels of confusion. Many sufferers feel that their baby is inherently evil. Functioning as a new mum with such a severe distortion of reality, is, of course, extremely dangerous for all concerned. These are not symptoms generally encountered by those suffering from PND, and a more detailed explanation of the illness appears here. If you suspect that you, or someone that you know, is enduring these symptoms then access medical help as soon as possible.