Do I have Postnatal Depression?
Over the last 6 years I have spoken to hundreds of women about Postnatal Depression. So often they start off tentatively saying they are not sure if they have PND. Many of these women are partly afraid of receiving the label and partly afraid of not receiving it. They want an answer either way, and even a diagnosis of PND would be better than continuing on as they have – just feeling “not right.” I shared my PND story on the blog when I started and spoke of being in denial for a long time. I was lucky to have a child health nurse who intervened on my behalf.
If you are reading this and have been suffering in silence I want to speak to you. I am not a doctor and my advice just comes from my experience. Disclaimer aside, my #1 point will always be that if you are thinking “I wonder if this is PND”, it does not matter what the answer is, it matters that you talk to someone. Whether it is PND or something else, the truth is that little voice inside you that is wondering – that voice is telling you “something” is not right.
Can it be something else?
An interesting thing about PND is that the symptoms can often be mixed up with other illnesses. The symptoms are what you need to address and rule out other health issues first. Always ask your doctor to do bloodwork when you are discussing possible PND.
Many women experience thyroid conditions in the postpartum period -depending on how long ago you had your baby, you can be presenting with either hypo or hyper thyroid symptoms. A full blood work up for thyroid functions will reveal this answer.
Also, we women have a tendency to become anemic after childbirth. Check your iron levels (and zinc while you are at it). This can be brought on by delivering a baby, possible blood loss, or simply less healthy eating habits when we are too busy to feed ourselves. Feeling lethargic and unmotivated can be the result of this so needs to be checked.
What should I do if I feel something is wrong with me?
If you are feeling out of sorts seek out a doctor you trust and feel comfortable with. If you do not know one, then ask around for a recommendation. If you go to a doctor and they dismiss your concerns talk to another doctor. You must be your own advocate in these situations, but can also bring a friend or partner along to support you and share what has been going on.
Another misconception about PND is the image of a mother retreating to her bed unable to do anything at all. This is just one presentation of PND. In my case it looked like that on occasion, but mostly it was anxiety and anger and intrusive thoughts. I know so many women who had similar stories – screaming at their husband or children “for no rational reason”, worrying about so many things they could not move forward, fear and stress dominating their days. Other women develop PND with OCD tendencies which includes repetitious behaviours to ease anxieties. Again it comes back to trusting yourself that you know something is just not “right.”
When will I feel better?
If you do have PND, please trust that getting help is always better than suffering in silence. So many women never seek help because they feel ashamed that they cannot cope or worry what others will think. You are worth getting help. You deserve to feel better. Open up the dialogue with your family, a friend, your doctor and explore what is going on. Whether the treatment needed is iron, thyroid medication, antidepressants or therapy please do not get hung up on which one it is. I know many would be grateful to take thyroid meds but hesitant to take ADs, but I beg you to look at what is going on and acknowledge it is a medical problem and you are treating that.
If you don’t know where to start I posted a full list of PND resources that I think have the best information. On that post I covered most parts of the world. If you need help today please call one of the hotlines depending on your location. If you cannot manage that please do as I did and at least allow someone else to make that call. I know it is scary, but the alternative is always far worse. You can feel better.
Don’t let a fear of the answer stop you from asking the questions!
Are you OK?
Find your simple,