Postnatal Depression and Anxiety

 

Postnatal depression (PND) and anxiety affects about 10 - 20 percent of new mothers, and can occur at any time during the first year.  You may experience them separately or simultaneously.

Signs of Depression

  • have feelings of hopelessness

  • had depression during pregnancy

  • believe you just can’t cope

  • feel angry and irritated 

  • have a poor appetite or an excessive appetite

  • feel overly anxious about your baby

  • tearful, alone, guilty, and unsupported.

  • have difficulty sleeping even when baby sleeps

  • having thoughts that you are a ‘bad’ mother

  • have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby


Signs of Anxiety

  •  feeling fearful, scared, upset or “on guard”

  •  irritability

  •  feeling keyed up or on edge

  •  excessively repetitive behaviours (e.g., cleaning or washing)

  •  avoiding people, places or activities

  •  excessive checking or reassurance seeking or online ‘research’ 

  •  trembling, twitching or feeling shaky

  •  restlessness

  •  difficulty concentrating or mind going blank

  •  trouble falling or staying asleep

  • shortness of breath or smothering sensations

  • racing and/or pounding heart , dizziness or lightheadedness

  • re-occuring thoughts or images of harm to the baby

  • unrealistic or excessive worry about the baby or other topics

The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) is a ten-item questionnaire used to detect depression in the postnatal period. You can do a self-test online here: 
https://pada.nz/edinburgh-postnatal-depression-scale-online-test/

The GAD-7 questionnaire is used to detect generalised anxiety disorder and assess the severity. You can do a self-test here:

https://depression.org.nz/is-it-depression-anxiety/self-test/

Treatment of postnatal depression can involve talk therapies / counselling, group therapy, medication, addressing lifestyle factors, or a combination of these. Your doctor will recommend a mix of treatment options which best suits you. Counselling can help with changing unhelpful thinking and behaviours,  developing healthy coping skills, enlisting emotional and practical supports, self care, and ways to calm the body and the mind. 

Important

If you suspect you (or a loved one) has postnatal depression / anxiety, it is important to talk to your Doctor for a full assessment and treatment plan.