Postnatal depression

By  ReachOut     |    Updated: 25th April, 2017    |    4 min read

When someone has postnatal depression, they experience a range of symptoms, including feeling like they can’t cope with their new role and everyday tasks. Many different things can contribute to someone developing postnatal depression and it’s more common in first time parents. There are a range of things you can do to help manage your symptoms.

You might find this useful if:
  • You’ve had a baby within the past year
  • You’re having trouble coping with everyday stuff
  • You feel really down, irritated, and upset
  • You feel as if you are a bad parent

What is postnatal depression?

Postnatal depression is a common type of depression which parents can get after the birth of a baby. It affects approximately one in six new mothers and one in ten new fathers. It usually occurs around four months after the baby is born and within the first year of the baby’s life. It’s more serious than ‘baby blues’ which 80% of new mothers experience in the first few weeks after having a baby – with postnatal depression people feel a sadness that is more severe than normal, lasts for longer than a few weeks, involves other symptoms, and interferes with how someone can get on in everyday life.

What are the causes?

There’s no one exact cause of postnatal depression. However, the things that can contribute to developing postnatal depression include:

  • sleep deprivation
  • not having enough emotional or social support
  • the baby being unwell, unsettled or difficult
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • experiencing trauma during or after the birth
  • previous depression, particularly during pregnancy.

It’s most common to get postnatal depression with your first baby, but having postnatal depression with one baby increases your chances of developing it with the next.

Signs and symptoms of postnatal depression

After a baby, it is common for new mothers, and even fathers , to  often feel teary and overwhelmed because of changes in hormones and lifestyle. Postnatal depression, however, is more serious than that. When people have postnatal depression, they often feel:

  • unable to cope with their new role as a parent
  • frequently irritated and frustrated
  • anxious about the baby – whether they are sleeping, eating, or crying enough, or too much
  • guilty that they are ‘a bad parent’
  • afraid to be alone with the baby.

Signs of postnatal depression include:

  • being unable to sleep – even when the baby’s sleeping
  • loss of appetite and weight
  • being unable to cope with daily chores
  • crying for no reason or excessively.

What to do about postnatal depression

Postnatal depression is able to be treated, and there are a lot of things you can do if you think you might have symptoms of postnatal depression. The first thing is to ask for help as soon as possible. Visit your GP, or talk to a maternal and child health nurse about how you’re feeling. They’ll work with you to work out what’s going on. With their help, treating and managing your symptoms will be much easier and quicker.Other things you can try:

  • Ask friends and family for emotional support and for help around the house, and with the baby.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself, and try not to compare yourself to other mothers and babies, everyone is different.
  • Focus on the positive things you do well with your baby.
  • Try to spend at least 30 minutes a day taking care of yourself. Do things to relax or that you enjoy. Reading a book while leaving the dirty dishes in the sink can be really therapeutic.

What can I do now?

Also check the related topics:  

Pregnancy Becoming a parent

Factsheet provided by ReachOut


Have we missed something?