Five Myths About Postnatal Depression

In this article I explore five myths about Postnatal depression and the facts. There is help available to mothers!

1. Myth: Women with PND are sad and cry constantly.

Fact:

Women with PND usually have a low mood, anxiety and worry, disrupted sleep, feelings of being overwhelmed, and can also feel very guilty that they are not enjoying the motherhood experience.

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But this illness can look different in every woman. PND is not a one-size-fits all illness. I often hear from mums who don't even realize that their symptoms fit the PND criteria.

 

Myths About Postnatal Depression Feeling Blue

Indeed, some women do feel sad and cry nonstop but others report feeling numb, while still others mainly feel irritable and angry. Some mums also have fears that they’ll inadvertently harm their kids, which increases their anxiety and distress. (The myth that mums with PND harm their kids only heightens these fears and fuels their suffering.)

Many mums appear to function perfectly well but struggle in silence. They still work, take care of the kids and seem calm and polished. That’s because most women experience more moderate symptoms of PND. They are able to function in their roles but have high anxiety and mood symptoms that rob them of the joy of being a mother and interfere with their ability to develop good attachment and bonding with their children.

 

Myths About Postnatal Depression coaching stress desperate depressed woman

4. Myth: Women with PND will hurt their kids.

Fact: Almost without fail when the media reports on a mum who hurt or killed her children, there’s mention of postnatal depression. Women with PND don’t harm or kill their children, and they’re not bad mothers. The only person a woman with PND may harm is herself if her illness is so intense that she has suicidal thoughts.

There is a 10 percent risk for infanticide or suicide with a different disorder called postnatal psychosis. Mums may harm their children during psychosis.

Postnatal depression is often confused with postnatal psychosis. But, again, they’re two different illnesses. Postnatal psychosis is rare. For more info on Postnatal Psychosis please see: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Psychosis/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

5. Myth: Having PND is somehow your fault.

Fact: Women often blame themselves for having PND and experience guilt over their symptoms because they’re not basking in some magical bliss of motherhood. But remember that PND isn’t something you choose. It’s a serious illness that can’t just be willed away.

Hormones play a large role in PND susceptibility. Some women are especially susceptible to quick fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone, which occur at childbirth. It’s likely that genetics predispose women to mood symptoms during these fluctuations. A history of abuse and trauma also might increase risk in women who are already genetically vulnerable.

I know it’s hard to believe that it’s not your fault, that you ever should have become a mother, and that you’ll ever get better. I know because I’ve been there. You will get better.

Again, PND is a real illness that requires expert help. Dismissing it can negatively affect both mum and baby. Don’t be casual about PND, and don’t hope for the best. Instead, find real hope and recovery with professional treatment.

Join us every Thursday at 13:00 in the Abbey Road Community Centre NW6. For more info please email: [email protected]

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About Jessica Warne

I am a mum to two beautiful daughters. After the birth of my youngest daughter I contracted postnatal depression. Since recovering I have thrown myself into research, volunteer roles and have now started a support group in my area for women with postnatal depression and their families. I believe passionately about ending the stigma surrounding PND and opening up the pathways to help.

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