What is it?
Post Natal Depression, sometimes referred to as baby blues, is a depressive episode that occurs following the birth of a child. PND figures in mothers are currently estimated at 12-13% with higher incidence level in developing countries. The condition is normally associated with mothers however in recent years it has been increasingly observed in fathers. Figures for PND in fathers vary significantly and are estimated at 7–30% . Research suggests that first time fathers are particularly prone to mild to moderate depression.
The cause for PND is not clear and some argue that depression after childbirth is not more common than at any other times. Some of the causes can include recent stressful circumstances, relationship problems and past history of previous PND or other depressive episodes. Other risk factors can include being critical, coercive, violent or holding rigid gender role expectations.
The symptoms of PND in mothers can include low mood and loss of enjoyment, anxiety, sleep and eating disorders, poor concentration, low self-esteem, low energy levels and loss of libido. Symptoms in fathers can be similar to those found in mothers, although they can potentially become more hostile in attitude.
As a therapist working with PND, there is no doubt in my mind that the birth of a child is a major life event for both mothers and fathers, as well as for other family members. Coming to terms with the magnitude of the event and its impact requires time and takes significant emotional resources. In addition it proposes an immediate impact to any existing relationship within the couple or family dynamics by its nature – an arrival of a new member. This could be one of the reasons that PND is not limited to the first child and can happen after any birth.
This difficult time, however, is not finite. By coming to therapy, talking about what is going on, understanding it and identifying potential changes that can support and increase your sense of your well being, you can reduce and eventually get over this episode. It can even become a point in your life that involves personal growth for you, for you relation ship with you child and for your relation ship with your environment, even though it may feel far from it right now.