It's okay to say 'we can't cope'
POST-natal depression (PND) doesn't discriminate. It can affect women of all ages and from all backgrounds.
It affects one-in-six mothers in Australia and occurs when a woman experiences moderate to severe depressive symptoms after childbirth.
The symptoms may present themselves immediately after childbirth or develop any time during the first year.
More than simply "baby blues", PND can run the full gamut of emotions from feeling sad, a loss of control right through to extreme depression.
The onset of PND can be slow or sudden and symptoms can include:
- Feeling down for long periods of time
- Feeling detached or unable to cope with your baby's demands
- Lack of interest in your baby or other activities
- Reduced appetite or comfort eating
- Fatigue, difficulties sleeping
- Negative thoughts and feelings
- Loss of sex drive
The cause of PND is largely unknown and while the drop in hormones that occurs after giving birth is thought to be a contributing factor, a combination of life-style changes, sleep deprivation and stress can be to blame.
Clinical psychologist Lisa Lindley specialises in treating women with PND and runs a support group for woman suffering from the condition on the Coast.
Since the group's establishment four years ago, 65 women have completed the eight-week course.
Ms Lindley was inspired to start the group after treating a woman with PND who felt alone and powerless.
Similar to regular depression, treatment can involve counselling and anti-depressants but Ms Lindley said one of the most important aspects of treatment was support and attending a support group.
"There's this terrible pressure on women after they have given birth," she said.
"It's a really challenging time with a lot of changes.
"You are sleep-deprived and at home with a baby all day.
"It's very different from a career where you are in control and know what to expect.
"Women don't know there is support out there and that they aren't alone.
"If they think they aren't coping, they feel like a failure as a mother and they're too ashamed to talk about it.
"There's a lot of shame attached with PND."
Ms Lindley said PND was nothing to be ashamed of.
If PND was suspected, the most important thing to do was to tell your partner and seek help.
Dads can also suffer from PND and the support group offers a night just for the dads to help them cope with their own feelings and give them the tools to help their partner.
The Postnatal Depression Support Group runs for eight weeks each term.
It is held every Wednesday at the Maroochy Baptist Centre from 1-2pm.
The cost of $20 can be bulk- billed with a Mental Health Care Plan.
The current course started two weeks ago but women are still free to join or contact Ms Lindley for more information or private counselling.
Next Wednesday from 10am to noon, the group will host a special morning tea with guest speakers.
Debra Dane, from Home Life Simplified, will talk about living a balanced life and ditching the guilt.
For more information, contact Ms Lindley on 0417 540 820.
Further information on PND can also be found at Post and Antenatal Depression Association at www.panda.org.au.