Dealing with the bitter bout of blues following your baby’s blissful birth
ostnatal depression, also known as postpartum depression, is a form of depression that lasts from several weeks up to a year that women (sometimes even men) may experience following childbirth. It can develop within the first three weeks after delivery, although in many cases it is not apparent until around four months after.
It is a surprisingly common illness that affects approximately one in ten women. Usually, postnatal depression is brought on by hormonal changes and imbalance, fatigue and the psychological and emotional rollercoaster that comes with entering motherhood. The latter means that teenage mothers are particularly prone. For many young mothers (especially after the delivery of their first-born), postnatal depression brings on a bout of low moods and negativity, making them feel helpless, unable to cope or relax and constantly worried and anxious.
During pregnancy, the production of reproductive hormones like progesterone and estrogen increases significantly in women. After childbirth, the body stops producing as much of those as well as other hormones like cortisol, prolactin and endorphins (the pleasure hormones). This sudden and extreme fluctuation triggers the onset of postnatal depression and a woman’s body can take some time to adjust to the changes.
The majority of new mums (around 70-80%) will experience the “baby blues,” where they feel anxious, irritable, and nervous for about a week or two. Postnatal depression occurs if the “baby blues” don’t go away, and the feelings may become more intense and distressing.
Common symptoms of postnatal depression include:
- Sadness, anxiety
- Loss of appetite, confidence and self-esteem
- Everyday tasks become a mission thatseems impossible to complete
- Indecisiveness and poor memory
- Irritability and feeling unable to cope
- Obsessive negative thoughts
- Sleeping problems or insomnia
- Needing constant reassurance
- In extreme cases, mothers may neglect or stop caring for themselves and their baby and may have thoughts of harming or hurting their baby
Doctors / Therapists / Support Groups / Counsellors (in Hong Kong)
- St. John’s Counselling Service
- Dr. Lauren Bramley & Partners
- OT&P Medical Practice
- Dr. Quratulain Zaidi (Clinical psychologist)
Central Health Medical Practice
Dr. Sarah Borwein (GP); Dr. Susan Mistler (Clinical practitioner); Dr. Suzanne Meenan (Clinical psychologist)
- Resource: The Counselling Centre
- Integrated Way
- Dr. Melanie Maynard (Psychologist)
- Dr. Sharmeen Shroff (Medical Psychologist)
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