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Women's Health Australia

Post Natal Depression (PND) ?

Post Natal depression (PND) is an acute depressive illness which can occur in the period between one and twelve months following the birth of a baby. It is estimated that around 16% of mothers can be affected. Post Natal Depression is often described as being mild, moderate or severe.

Differentiate between “the blues”, Post Partum Psychosis and PND The Blues is a common variation of mood which occurs between three and ten days after birth. Around 80% of new mothers will experience the blues early in their post natal period. This condition is due to fluctuating hormone levels and once these have stabilized, the mother’s mood improves.

Symptoms of the Baby Blues - Crying on and off - Feeling fine one minute and sad the next - Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope - Feelings of extreme emotional sensitivity

Symptoms of Post Partum Psychosis - Confusion, memory loss and thought disturbance - Feeling overwhelmed and scared - Auditory and visual hallucinations - A sense of paranoia - Disconnection from reality, including the baby

Treatment for Post Partum Psychosis - Admission to a specialist psychiatric hospital for observation and monitoring - Anti-psychotic medication - Occasionally Electro Convulsant Therapy (ECT) or shock therapy is recommended

Symptoms of Post Natal Depression - Overwhelming fatigue, despite obtaining adequate sleep. - Waking very early in the morning and being unable to drop back off to sleep. - Low energy levels, poor motivation and lack of interest in socializing - Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with own or the baby’s cares. - Anxiety – often in anticipation of the baby waking and needing to be attended to. - Appetite changes including comfort eating or loss of interest in eating. Loss of weight or sudden weight gain. - Forgetfulness, confusion and mental “fog”. - Panic attacks and feeling overwhelmed by fear. - Thoughts of death, suicide, self harm, hurting the baby or wanting to “end it all”.

What is the Treatment? Treatment options vary according to the severity of symptoms and the individual woman. If a woman has previously had a depressive illness and a particular supportive therapy was found to be useful, it is likely this will be trialled again.

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