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Approximately one in two mothers experience baby blues after the birth of their child. The blues typically happen between day three and day five coinciding with the hormonal changes that occur as the breast milk starts to come in. Mothers may feel weepy, irritable low mood and lacking in confidence around their baby. This is very normal and the blues usually

subside after a week or so. It is perfectly okay to have a good cry and to be able to talk to someone about how you are feeling. 

A mother will need lots of reassurance that her feelings are quite normal and lots of tender loving care.

What is PND?

What is PND

This is a totally different condition to Postnatal Depression. It affects approximately one in five hundred to a thousand new mothers and occurs usually within the first six weeks after delivery. The mother may experience delusions, hallucinations and erratic behaviour which are commonly noticed by family members first. Usually this condition is treated in hospital, preferably in a mother and baby unit, where if appropriate the mother can have her baby with her. 

As with all the conditions above there are a number of things that can be done to help. It is very important to contact your GP or health visitor to find out about options and choices available, because different things suit different people and their varying symptoms and circumstances.

Puerperal psychosis

Signs & Symptoms of Postnatal Depression


Postnatal depression is an individual illness - affecting each person differently to the next, however many mothers symptoms are similar. Just like general depression, PND can vary from mild  to more severe, and whilst some people may experience a number of symptoms, others may have only a few. In some  cases, symptoms of postnatal depression will start soon after the birth of a baby, and it is due to this that they can go unrecognised - often mistaken for natural 'baby blues'. Others PND may manifest itself later after the birth. There are however stark differences between feeling emotional and irritable following the birth of your baby, and feeling extremely low, anxious and unable to look forward to or enjoy anything.


The common symptoms of postnatal depression are: 


  • A persistent feeling of sadness and low mood. You may feel particularly low at certain times of the day, such as mornings or evenings  

  • Loss of interest in everyday life and no longer enjoying the things that once gave you pleasure

  • Not enjoying spending time with your baby

  • Feeling constantly exhausted and tired

  • Getting tearful for no apparent reason

  • Feeling hopeless about the future, unable to look forward to anything

  • Overwhelming sense of worthlessness, guilt, blame and despair

  • Feeling unable to cope

  • Constantly irritable and angry

  • Increasingly apathetic

  • Feelings of hostility and indifference to your partner and others

  • High anxiety may lead to panic attacks which are very common with PND but can also be very frightening. 


Changes to your normal ways of functioning: 

  • Disturbed sleep, problems getting to sleep or back to sleep, sometimes with racing thoughts

  • Difficulty concentrating and finding it hard to make decisions

  • Low self-confidence and self-esteem

  • Changes to appetite - not wanting to eat or simply forgetting to, or eating more than normal (comfort eating)

  • Increasingly isolating yourself from friends and family - deliberately avoiding any social event

  • Thinking about self harming or suicide


Frightening thoughts 

Symptoms of postnatal depression may also include frightening thoughts, or 'obsessional ruminations' which are very difficult to control.  These negative thoughts are quite common, and are classic signs of how depression can change your thinking,  and they will go as the depression starts to lift. Often they trigger more complex emotions such as guilt that you are not a good parent and fear that your baby doesn't love you, which can cause further distress. Although many people may feel ashamed or scared to admit they are having harmful thoughts, seeking help can help to normalise your feelings for you. In the vast majority of cases these harmful thoughts are not acted upon, but they can greatly impact emotional well-being. 


Increased anxiety 

Another side effect of postnatal depression is increased anxiety, without any good reason to feel anxious. Some  parents with PND may feel overwhelmed with thoughts and concerns such as: 

  • their baby is ill

  • their baby is not putting on enough weight

  • their baby is crying too much and they can't settle him/her

  • their baby is too quiet or might have stopped breathing 

  • some mothers may be very anxious about their own health, a fear of cancer is a common symptom of PND.


Some new parents with postnatal depression may be afraid to be left alone with their baby, and may fret excessively over their own health and whether they are fit and able to cope with looking after their baby. Heightened anxiety may cause panic attacks in the form of breathlessness, sweating, racing pulse and palpitations.  


Psychotic symptoms

A small number of women - usually around one in 1000, according to the NHS - develop psychotic symptoms following the birth of their child. Symptoms of postnatal psychosis may include hearing voices and seeing things that aren't really there (hallucinations) and having unusual beliefs about things that are not true and illogical (delusions). 




These feelings are not unusual and there is a range of support for youfor your family and friends to see you through this difficult time.


It is always recommended that you speak to your GP if you feel you may be experiencing any of the symptoms or feelings above.

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