Between 10 and 15 per cent of women suffer from postnatal depression in the first year after childbirth. It's an emotional state, where you feel sad and anxious and it affects all aspects of your life. But help is nearby; you just need to ask.

It’s normal to react strongly to major events in life, and even if you’re happy about becoming a mother, it may still feel like a change that you’re not quite prepared for You may feel overwhelmed and powerless, as though you’re not ready to handle your new life

These are troublesome and difficult feelings

If you don’t have the energy to cope with what is expected of you, you’ll become exhausted and lose perspective, which can lead to postnatal depression

Postnatal depression is a heavy burden to bear alone
Postnatal depression can weigh you down in many ways You can:

– feel sad, down, and cry for no apparent reason
– lack energy and interest in all that is happening around you
– have trouble concentrating
– have difficulty bonding with your baby
– feel tired and want to sleep all the time
– have trouble getting to sleep, sleep poorly, and wake early
– comfort-eat or lose your appetite
– spend money inappropriately in a bid to feel better
– lack confidence and be sensitive
– feel guilty and blame yourself for not being a good enough mother
– lack feelings of happiness
– be scared of being alone
– be scared of hurting your baby or yourself
– be scared of going out, catching the bus or driving
– try to hide your feelings from those around you
– worry that you are becoming or already are mentally ill

These are just a few of the symptoms of postnatal depression

Postnatal depression isn’t uncommon
Research tells us that between 10 and 15 per cent of women suffer from postnatal depression in the first year after childbirth For some, it lasts less than a fortnight, for others several months to one year, and for a few women, it may take several years to get back on their feet It’s also a fact that the sooner you seek help, the better your prognosis

What can you do?
Postnatal depression is too big a burden to shoulder alone

The first step toward improving your situation is to talk about how you feel Putting your feelings into words will begin to lighten your load It also makes it easier for those around you to help out

Start with your partner The more open you are with each other, the easier it will be to get through this difficult time Your immediate family and closest friends can also be of great help As a single parent, you really need other adults with whom you can share your thoughts and feelings

Counselling for postnatal depression
Also talk to your midwife, GP or Plunket nurse They are trained to help you cope with postnatal depression If need be, they can refer you to a counsellor psychologist or psychiatrist for help

Research show that postnatal depression
passes, and that it does so quicker if you get help; so ask for help For your baby’s sake, do not hesitate to accept help There really is nothing to be ashamed of It’s just very difficult for you

Remember - help is out there You're not alone

If you have suffered from postnatal depression, please share your thoughts here There are many women out there who need your support

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