I’ve experienced two long bouts of PND. I have a history of depressive illness so before I even had my children I was warned that I was at a higher risk for PND. My GP referred me to a team at King’s who monitored me throughout my three pregnancies and in the postnatal period. I was also allocated a brilliant midwife team who specialise in caring for women who are likely to suffer from PND.
New mothers can be very critical of themselves and of others. I remember telling one fellow playgroup goer that I was so unhappy that I wanted to give up my son for adoption. The look of horror and condemnation on her face will stay with me forever. However you should tell people that you are feeling overwhelmed or low and, if you speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP they will listen and make suggestions or referrals for further help.
The treatment I had was a combination of antidepressants and CBT (talking therapy) and I was encouraged to find help with the practical things such as cooking, cleaning and childcare. If you are exhausted you don’t have the energy to look after children and the guilt from this can be a contributor to depression. It’s a vicious circle. In my case I would look at other mothers in the park, playing, laughing and smiling with their babies and children and just feel empty inside, which of course made the feeling of uselessness worse. When the psychologist reminded me that all we see is a snapshot of anyone’s life, I was able to put my feelings in perspective and started to feel better. Please just remember that PND is very treatable and the sooner it is identified, the sooner you can start getting better and enjoying your lovely family.
Eleanor, from Herne Hill, mum to Nicholas and Alexander, 6, William, 4 and Edward, 2