Antenatal depression occurs during pregnancy whereas postnatal depression can occur up to one year after the birth of a baby. Recent research suggests a similar number of women develop depression during pregnancy as afterwards and that new dads can also often experience post-natal depression. Post-natal depression is believed to affect at least 1:10.
Confusing and unpredictable
Depression around the time of pregnancy and birth can be very confusing and unpredictable. Both types of depression can be mild and short lived or more severe and lengthy. Some sufferers will feel very anxious (and may even get fixated on one worrying thought), while others may develop a low mood or even have suicidal thoughts. It is common to have physical symptoms alongside emotional symptoms. For example an inability to sleep, nausea and loss of appetite, weepiness, agitation and irritability, extreme lethargy and exhaustion.
No single cause
It is believed that antenatal and post-natal depression are probably not caused by one single thing but that they are a response to a number of factors. For example a physical illness (e.g. Thyroid conditions), a recent stressful event, a history of mental illness or lack of support from family or friends may increase the likelihood of developing either of these conditions. However this is not necessarily the case and they can also occur for no obvious reason at all (RCPsych PND leaflet.)
It is common to feel that your depression will never leave, whereas most people will get better within the first year of their baby’s life, although for some it will last longer and requires further treatment.
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