Adjusting to life as a mother or father can be difficult. In fact, for many people, having a baby is the most significant life-changing event they will ever experience. Coping with this major life change, as well as with the day-to-day stress of a new baby, can make some both women and women prone to experience depression at this time; particularly if they have previously experienced depression.
Around 10% of women in Australia experience depression during pregnancy; this is referred to as Antenatal Depression, and it is less common than depression, which is experienced after the birth of a baby. Postnatal depression (PND) refers to depression that a woman experiences in the months after the birth of her baby. Postnatal depression affects almost 16% of women after giving birth in Australia, and about 5% of men.
Previously there was not a lot of information and resources available for men suffering from PND, however there is now an increasing amount of research about the effects of post-natal depression in men and there are many services that now cater for men. Dr Michelle Morris a counselling psychologist specialises in providing services to men and women affected by PND.
Symptoms of PND may include lack of confidence, negative thoughts, feelings of being unable to cope or that life is meaningless, anxiety, difficulty sleeping and loss of appetite. Some women feel that it is a shock to their system and that they may lose their sense of identity and freedom when they become a mother, since they now have a dependant. They may begin to question their life’s plan, their career, and goals, which they may not have been prepared for.
Therapy is an effective means of assisting individuals who are experiencing post-natal depression. The practitioners at Western Plains Psychology can provide support by:
- assisting the individual understand their environment and providing strategies to help them remove stressors from day-to-day life
- increasing social support networks (e.g., discussion with other new mothers, help from family and friends)
- goal-setting; develop goals that include the child as well as individual goals
- discussions with the both parents to assist to help them to understand the symptoms and prognosis, and learn how to provide effective support (as well as providing support and guidance to each other).