COUNSELLING for POST NATAL DEPRESSION
Having a baby should feel like one of the happiest times of your life. However for many parents the weeks and months leading up to and after giving birth can be marred with an overwhelming sense of sadness, anxiety and despair.
Often, parents go through a period of exhaustion, shock and stress following the birth of their baby, and may initially feel emotional and tearful as they come to terms with such a life-changing experience.
This period of 'baby blues' is very common among new parents and usually only lasts for a few weeks. For some though, baby blues develop into a much deeper and longer-term form of depression known as postnatal depression (PND).
Recent statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that 1 in 4 mothers experience clinical/post partum depression after childbirth and this can be exacerbated by other factors such as;
-difficulties in pregnancy and giving birth
-poverty and debt
-worry and stress
-isolation and poor transport links
-lack of emotional support
-lack of access to services
-lack of knowledge about child development and parenting
All these other factors can make new mums feel like they're at breaking point; especially with the demands that a new baby can have on the mind and the body yet alone adding all these other factors into the mix. Which is why it is no surprise that a new mother's own ability to take care of herself is severely affected and new mums may fail to adequately eat, bathe or care for themselves in other ways. This may increase the risks of ill health.
So it is no surprise that the risk of suicide is also a consideration, and in psychotic illnesses, the risk of infanticide, though rare, must be taken into consideration.
Very young infants can be affected by and are highly sensitive to the environment and the quality of care, and are likely to be affected by mothers with mental disorders as well.
Prolonged or severe mental illness hampers the mother-infant attachment, breastfeeding and infant care which can make new mothers feel like they are failing in their role; triggering those self doubts and negative beliefs.
And it's not just new mothers who suffer; new fathers also feel the effects of PND too!
With 1 in 3 new fathers stating that they also worry about their mental health; many have shared their experiences of struggling to bond with their babies, or wrestling with feelings of despair and aggression.
Then there is the inadequacy that men feel when they witness their partners own struggle with PND which then adds to that initial feeling with hopelessness and despair.
Although some symptoms – including feelings of unworthiness, sadness, anxiety, and a prolonged lowering of mood and lethargy are common in mothers and fathers; postnatal depression looks different in men.
In what way? There’s more avoidance, overworking, drinking and substance abuse. And if there were already pre-existing problems in the relationship; the demands of a new born baby on the family unit can have a devastating effect on the relationship overall.
However dark those times may feel; I know from having my own personal struggle with PND including my partner who also struggled with PND. The most important thing to remember is that there is hope and support available. And you can and will get through this!!
Counselling for postnatal depression provides an outlet for parents to talk about their thoughts and feelings with the help of a professional therapist.
Specialised therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy are used to help guide clients through their problems - enabling them to understand the nature of their depression and how they can change their thoughts and behaviours to reach their full potential and enjoy being a parent and having a secure and loving bond with their child.
Other counselling approaches can help clients to understand their PND in terms of their relationships or what has happened to them in the past. Above all, counselling for postnatal depression allows sufferers to feel comfortable enough to open up about their illness without feeling ashamed or judged.