Women who have postnatal depression experience periods where they are up and periods where they are down, usually the down periods become less frequent over time as they recover.
We have included some pointers below:
- Do something which might help your self confidence e.g start exercising it is a natural antidepressant, especially if it is enjoyable (dance, yoga)
- Eat small amounts more often. Don’t go long periods without food
- Take some time out for yourself and don’t feel guilty about it. Women who suffer from PND need to know that they deserve some free time and it’s not a bad thing to want it.
- Keep yourself busy, but don’t do anything too strenuous
- Have somebody to talk to - a friend, family member, health visitor anyone with a aympathetic ear
- Lack of sleep, anxiety and poor concentration make a vicious spiral. Alternate night feeds with a partner, take a rest during the day while baby is resting.
- Try and keep in contact with other mothers and discuss new skills and experiences - You are not alone.
Your doctor can also perscribe pills or refer you to a psychiatrist or counsellor. Counsellors are professionally trained to listen without judging.
What can partners/friends/relatives do to help?
There are many things that can be done to help:
- Encourage the mother to seek help
- Try to ensure that she gets enough sleep, food and exercise
- Encourage her to talk to someone about her feelings
- Make sure she has a small daily treat
- Remind her that she will get better
- Help her relax, a massage may help
- Reassure her that you will support her
- Make sure that she does not spend long periods alone
- Find out about PND and be prepared to talk about it
And there are things which you should definetly not do
- Don’t tell her to pull herself together
- Don’t walk out on her, however difficult she is.
- Don’t leave her alone with the baby for long periods
- Don’t encourage her to drink too much alcohol
All of those would make her depression worse.
Revision date: July 9, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD