Postnatal depression


Postnatal depression

Following the birth of your baby, you will likely experience extreme highs and lows. Your emotional state will be unpredictable as you cope with the changes, not only to your body but also to your life.

It is very normal to go through these emotional ups and downs. All new mothers experience them. In some cases, though, the emotional lows can become overwhelming and be a sign of postnatal depression.

Our guide can help you understand what postnatal depression is, what to look out for and how to get the help and support you need.

Remember that our friendly and supportive maternity team is here to support you, even after you give birth. If you feel like you need help with postnatal depression, do not hesitate to call your doctor or midwife.

Baby blues

All mothers will experience the ‘baby blues’. As your hormones go through extreme changes following the birth of your baby, you’re probably going to feel moody and sad. This can happen anytime between three to ten days after giving birth.

Generally, the baby blues last for two to three days, and the support of your partner, family and friends can help you through it. If you find that the baby blues are lasting more than two weeks, it may be a sign of postnatal depression.

Postnatal depression

If your feelings of sadness or hopelessness don’t go away after a couple of weeks, or they feel like they’re steadily getting worse, this can be a sign of developing postnatal depression.

Postnatal depression can occur at any time within the first year after giving birth. It is a common condition, and many new parents struggle with the effects. It’s important to recognise the signs and ask for help.

What to watch out for

Some of the signs of postnatal depression include:

  • feeling very low or a sense of hopelessness
  • feeling inadequate, like a failure, empty, sad and teary
  • having a sense of guilt or worthlessness
  • experiencing anxiety or panic
  • having trouble sleeping, sleeping too long or experiencing nightmares
  • feeling scared of being alone or leaving the home.

You may also have more extreme feelings such as:

  • an urge to leave your family or panic that your partner is leaving you
  • an urge to harm yourself, your partner or your baby.

In these cases, you or your partner should contact your doctor immediately.

Diagnosis and treatment

Proper diagnosis of postnatal depression is key in finding the right treatment and our hospital is equipped to provide you with assessment and advice. If you recognise the signs above, or you feel like you need help, please reach out to your doctor or midwife. The situation may also arise where you notice these changes in your partner or loved one. We will ask you some questions about how you’ve been coping after the birth of your baby to help diagnose your postnatal depression.

A range of treatment options are available to you both as an inpatient and after discharge, including:

  • counselling and group treatment
  • developing support strategies
  • medications.

Buderim Private Hospital is home to the largest mental health treatment facility in regional Queensland -- the Cooinda Mental Health Service. Treatment programs are designed according to the latest best practice standards, with a mix of group therapy and individual therapy options available.

Other resources, such as Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA), also provide help and support options.

Paternal depression

During this time, it is not uncommon for new dads to develop symptoms of depression as well. Men can develop depression during pregnancy or following the birth of their new baby.

It may be associated with a partner’s postnatal depression as both of you struggle to cope, but this is not always the case. It can happen for many reasons, including:

  • lack of sleep
  • lack of a support network
  • feelings of incompetence
  • previous history with depression.

Some of the signs to look out for include:

  • persistent tiredness, pain or headaches
  • irritability or anger
  • anxiety
  • loss of libido
  • feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope
  • feeling isolated or disconnected from your partner.

Paternal depression can often go undiagnosed and untreated as men don’t attend postpartum check-ups, and are often less likely to reach out for help. If you feel like you are suffering, you should not be ashamed to speak to your doctor or a mental health professional.

If you feel like your partner is suffering from paternal depression, you should address your feelings with him and help him find suitable treatment.

Childbirth can put a strain on your relationship, but it is important that both partners rely on each other during the more stressful moments. Be open and honest with your feelings and work together to get additional help and support if it’s needed.