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 and the day-to-day stress of a new baby can make both women and men prone to experience depression at this time, particularly if they have previously experienced depression.
Around 10% of women in Australia experience depression during pregnancy, referred to as Antenatal Depression. It is less common than postnatal 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 childbirth 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 postnatal 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 may lose their sense of identity and freedom when they become mothers. They may begin to question their life’s plan, career, and goals, which they may not have been prepared for.
Therapy is an effective means of assisting individuals who are experiencing postnatal depression. The practitioners at Western Plains Psychology can provide support by:
- helping the individual understand their environment and providing strategies to help them remove stressors from day-to-day life.
- increasing social support networks (discussion with other new mothers, help from family and friends).
- developing goals that include the child as well as individual goals.
- discussions with both parents to assist in helping them to understand the symptoms and learn how to provide effective support.