Falling pregnant and having a child is often one of the most exciting and memorable times in a woman's life. It can also be one of life's most challenging events, particularly for first-time mothers. Adjusting to the responsibility of caring for a tiny baby, as well as dealing with sleep deprivation, fluctuating hormones, and pure physical exhaustion, often take a toll on the mental health of many new mothers.
While feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and emotional are perfectly normal aspects to life with a new baby, sometimes things can go beyond the regular baby blues and become a persistent and often debilitating condition. This is called postnatal depression, and, generally, it will require assistance from mental health and medical practitioners to overcome.
Postnatal depression (PND) can often be difficult to recognize for both sufferers and their loved ones. Here are three facts about postnatal depression that every new mother and their loved ones should know.
1. This Condition Is More Common Than You Think
Until recent years, PND was largely unknown outside mental health and medical professions. While much broader community knowledge of the issue now exists, very few people understand how prevalent and indiscriminative PND can be.
The US has the highest rate of PND in the world, with almost 65% of mothers suffering from it to some degree. Fortunately, many of these cases are mild to moderate and can be successfully treated if detected early. Unfortunately, a small percentage of women develop severe PND that may require prolonged treatment and even hospitalization.
2. Medication Isn't Always Required
For many mothers who suffer from PND, one of the reasons they might not seek medical help is because they don't want to be medicated. This may be out of concern for their nursing infant or because they feel as though they should be able to mother their child without pharmaceutical assistance.
While medications, such as anti-depressants, certainly play an important role in treating many cases of PND, they're not always necessary. Often, PND can be successfully treated with the help of a psychologist or counselor who specializes in the area. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy have shown to be highly effective ways to combat PND.
3. PND Doesn't Just Affect The Sufferer
Many women who develop PND suffer through the illness in silence. Often, they feel like they’ll let down their loved ones or that they’ll fail at motherhood by admitting that they can’t cope or aren’t happy. Unfortunately, this situation can make matters worse and have serious and often lasting negative effects on family life and their child's development.
Undiagnosed and untreated PND frequently causes disharmony, stress, and marital conflict. It can also negatively impact the bond that develops between a mother and her baby, leading to emotional, cognitive, and social development problems as the child grows.
Understanding PND and getting treatment means that you can address these issues before they cause lasting damage. It will give your spouse the tools and information to help support you through your treatment and will help you to focus on developing a healthy, strong, and loving bond with your baby.
Because PND is so prevalent, all new mothers across the country should look out for signs and symptoms. If you suspect that you may have PND, tell your spouse and loved ones, and find the right professional help to begin treatment with.
Here at Associated Psychologists & Counselors LLC, we have an exceptional and experienced team of professionals who can help you to overcome and combat your PND. Contact us at our Norfolk clinic to make an appointment or ask any further questions you may have.