Post natal depression (PND) is experienced by many mothers following childbirth. It typically arises from a combination of hormone changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood and of course tiredness. When a woman becomes a mother her whole life changes in the blink of an eye. All of a sudden there is a total responsibility for another (little) person. A mother is there for feeding, clothing, comforting, entertaining and much, much more. Added to the new responsibilities there is a massive change in hormones in a woman’s body post childbirth. Throughout pregnancy levels of human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG), progesterone and oestrogen are all produced by the placenta, immediately after birth these hormone levels decline quickly and the body has to adjust to this drop in hormones immediately. Endorphins are also important pregnancy hormones which are produced by the brain during pregnancy and especially during childbirth as they help to reduce pain and stress. After birth, endorphin levels drop rapidly and this drop can be responsible for the low feelings or ‘baby blues’ that can be experienced after birth and also the more lasting feeling of depression.
The incidence of PND is difficult to establish, studies have estimated that PND is experienced by 10-15% of new mothers although the charity 4children have shown that around 30% of new mums are affected. Based on their findings, the charity has called for changes in the way that PND is treated and have campaigned to raise awareness and improve diagnosis of the condition. New mothers are said to have PND if they experience 3 or more of the following symptoms:
Inability to cope
Feelings of guilt that they don’t love their baby enough
Lack of appetite
Difficulties bonding with the baby
Low sex drive
Crying for no reason
A survey among new mothers who were experiencing PND found that of those who sought treatment, 70% were prescribed antidepressants. However, many antidepressants are contra indicated when breastfeeding therefore antidepressants may not be the best way to treat PND. New research has been concentrating on talking therapies and cognitive behavioural therapy as a way to treat PND. The Thrive Programme is a new psychological training programme which helps people to understand their symptoms and why they exist. The Thrive Programme uses several techniques which can help a new mother overcome PND.
The Thrive Programme addresses how much power you believe you have to make changes in your life. Women with PND and a young child to look after will feel particularly powerless. Learning how to create a more internal locus of control will enable a person to begin to feel more in control of their lives which can be a powerful tool in combating PND.
Any major life changes would give anyone a cause to doubt themselves, leading to a drop in self esteem. The Thrive Programme shows how to increase self esteem substantially in just two weeks. When self esteem is increased a new mum will have confidence in herself that she is able to care for her baby.
Becoming a mother is a scary, tiring and stressful time but with the right help it can be the most wonderful experience in the world. If you think you are suffering from any of the symptoms of PND and would like to get help then please contact one of our Thrive Consultants.