Postnatal Depression Explained By Uplift With Us - Dr Saunders

Hello, we are Uplift With Us! Co-run by GP Dr Saunders and Confidence and Empowerment Coach Stephanie.

Friends for many years (and now, we’re excited to say, trusted colleagues too!) we have come together to help empower women to live their healthiest and happiest life.

Combining over 3 years coaching experience from Stephanie, and over 8 years medical experience from Dr.Saunders.

During lockdown, we noticed not only were people in need of some positivity and inspiration, but that there was nowhere that married up wellbeing information from both the viewpoints of a doctor and a life coach. Hence, Uplift With Us was born!

We also realised that women, the absolute  superheroes that we all are, go through SO many emotional transition points in our lives...A relentless rollercoaster of hormones, fertility issues, motherhood, relationships, careers, health problems, grief; You name it, we’ve all been there, right?!

In joining forces and creating Uplift With Us, we aim to use our unique and holistic viewpoint to help women confidently sail through those life changes.

It is a real honour to work with Mamma With A Cuppa - another platform that shares our ethos of supporting women in becoming empowered, healthy and happy!

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Hello, I’m Dr Saunders - a GP with a specialist interest in women’s health. Today I’m here to talk about the important topic of Post Natal Depression (PND).

*What is PND?

PND is depression after having a baby and can happen anytime in the first year after giving birth.

With the pandemic affecting post natal appointments, baby groups and our ability to freely socialise with family and friends, new mums may be feeling more isolated. Some doctors are concerned that this may result in more women experiencing mental health conditions.

*Why is it important to know about PND?

It’s common; affecting more than 1 in 10 women. Fathers and partners can also get PND too.

With the correct support and treatment, most women are able to make a full recovery.

If left untreated however, there is risk of becoming very unwell. This can also impact on the baby and family. Remember, it’s never too late to get help.

*How will I know if it’s more than ‘Baby Blue’s’?

Baby Blues affects more than 50% of women. This is when you feel a bit low in mood, anxious or tearful, usually within the first week of giving birth.

If these symptoms are severe or last longer than 2 weeks, or start after the first fortnight, this may indicate PND. Make sure you speak to your Health Visitor or GP - they will assess and support you further.

*What are the symptoms of PND? And what might mothers worry about?

Two helpful questions to ask yourself are:

1. During the last month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?

2. During the last month, have you been bothered by little interest or pleasure in doing things?

If you answer yes to either of these, you may be experiencing PND, and it’s important to seek help from a medical professional.

But, there are a vast number of other symptoms too! Each woman’s symptoms will be individual to them.

Women have voiced to me thoughts of feeling hopeless, unable to cope, that they feel they’re a bad mother or have lost their confidence. On top of that, women may feel guilty for feeling this way, and sadly blame themselves. But remember, it’s not your fault.

Some women worry that their baby will be taken in to care if they disclose how they are feeling. This is extremely unlikely. Medical professionals want to support you and your family as best and as safely as they can.

Other symptoms of PND to look out for are:

- Feeling sad and low in mood

- Loss of enjoyment in things

- Feeling worried or irritable

- Low energy, constantly tired

- Poor sleep

- Loss of appetite, or over-eating

- Poor concentration

- Difficulty bonding with your baby

- Difficulty looking after yourself or your baby

- In severe cases, some women can experience thoughts that their family would be better off without them, or thoughts of harming themselves or their baby. (Seek emergency help if this is the case from your GP or local Emergency Department).

As you can see, PND affects women in many different ways!

*I think I’ve got PND...

It’s not a straight forward ‘tick box’ exercise diagnosing PND. The symptoms listed above can be caused by a large variety of other medical conditions too, and a couple of them (e.g poor sleep and tiredness) may be a natural part of the huge adjustment to motherhood.

The take home message is if you think you may have PND, or have any of the symptoms above, please speak to your doctor urgently. This will enable you to be diagnosed correctly and safely, and receive the support you need.

*What treatments are there for PND?

Treatment options include talking therapies (also called psychological therapies e.g Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), social support and, in some cases, medication called anti-depressants.

It is important to tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding and considering medication, so they can explain the risks.

*What extra things can I do to help my symptoms?

Avoiding alcohol, regular gentle walking (unless there is a medical reason why you can not exercise) and eating a balanced diet can be very helpful.

Try to get enough sleep (very difficult with a newborn I appreciate!). Consider speaking to your Health Visitor for sleep tips.

Take time to do something you enjoy regularly, and spend time with supportive friends and family. Build up a support network around you as best you can so people are there to look out for you!

*What other support is available?

The NHS website and MIND mental health charity website both have lots of information to read more about PND.

PANDAS Foundation provides support to women with PND.

Samaritans helpline (116 123) is available 24/7 to support people going through a difficult time.

Your GP may also be able to give you the mental health helpline local to your area.

Birth Trauma Association support women who have had a traumatic birthing experience.

I hope this has been helpful to all you amazing new mums out there, who are an absolute inspiration!

Please do not suffer in silence. Speak to someone and get the help that both you and your baby deserve.

Wishing you all the best, Dr.Saunders

!Disclaimer! This post is designed to be for general information only, and is not individualised advice. It should not replace the advice of your own healthcare professional. Always seek advice from your own medical doctor before trying any action based on information from this post, to check that it is safe for you.

References I used to write this article included NICE guidelines, NHS website and RCPSYCH website.

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