Monday 5th of December, 2016
Postnatal depression (PND) isn’t often discussed here, but it’s a real issue that happens to more mothers than we think.
I’ve never experienced PND myself, but I’ve had friends who have struggled with it. PND isn’t just postnatal blues, or “baby blues” as we often call it. Most mums experience baby blues to some degree – unexplained mood swings and tearfulness brought on by hormonal and psychological changes in the body post-delivery. Doctors tend to give this a few days (to two weeks maximum) to clear up, and most mums usually do.
What postnatal depression really means
Both Kandang Kerbau Hospital and the is over the counter Singapore Associationfor Mental Health estimate that about 10-15% of mothers are affected by PND. PND usually appears within the first six weeks of delivery, but it can occur later. Doctors diagnose PND once symptoms persist for more than two weeks, but the tricky thing is that many mum go undiagnosed.
What causes postnatal depression
There are many factors that can lead to PND – both young mothers under 21 and mature mothers are at a higher risk, particularly when the pregnancy is unplanned or complicated. The support system of the parent is important – the more worried, fatigued, or anxious a mother is over caring for her child, the higher the risk of PND. Past psychiatric history is also a definite factor.
How to identify postnatal depression
Mums – and even fathers, to a smaller extent – often experience tearfulness, fatigue, and sleeplessness. Loss of concentration, high irritability, and a lack of appetite are common. PND can also result in hostility towards spouses and/or the baby, and a constant feeling of being alone and a failure as a parent. In severe cases, suicidal thoughts can occur.
How and where to get help
Many PND sufferers choose not to get help because they are afraid that they will be deemed unfit to care for their children and their children will be taken out of their care. But external help is important for parents with PND to recover!
The most immediate thing you can do if you suspect you have PND (or if you know someone with PND) is to start talking. Talk to a partner, family member, midwife, support group, doctor, or counselor about how you feel.
For those with moderate or severe depression, doctors will recommend medical attention that involves a full assessment, management plan, therapy, and often antidepressants. The KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital offers consultation and treatment.
Being a parent is tough but you don’t have to do it alone – our green community is here for you too!
Your friendly neighbourhood gardener,