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What is PND?

by Tash Hughes of Word Constructions (

Post Natal Depression, or PND as it is commonly known, is not well understood by those who have not experienced it. It is a genuine illness that mothers can’t just ‘snap out of’.

Statistics vary, but it is commonly thought that about 14% of Mothers experience PND. This figure applies to women across the world of all ages and economic backgrounds, although it is much less common in primitive societies.

PND has been around for a long time, although not by that name; even Hippocrates recorded cases of depression in new mothers.

There is a lot of variation in symptoms, severity and duration of PND between different women. Common symptoms are:

K     Feeling sad for no obvious reason

K     Crying a lot, usually for no apparent reason

K     Mood swings

K     Exhaustion

K     Difficulty in getting to sleep or staying asleep (aside from the baby’s demands)

K     Anxiety and panic attacks

K     Paranoia and fear

K     Feelings of being inadequate and useless

K     Reduced concentration and memory skills

K     Guilt

K     Feeling out of control

K     Being irritable and intolerant

K     Frustration

K     Withdrawing from people, including the baby

K     Low interest in sex

K     Low self esteem

K     Feeling overwhelmed and trapped

K     Feeling numb and distant

K     Suicidal or even homicidal

K     Feeling disconnected from the world

What is the same for all PND cases is that the depression and other symptoms set in either during pregnancy or within the first twelve months of giving birth. Some women aren’t diagnosed until later, but the start of the PND can be traced back.

The variety in symptoms and affects of PND can make it hard to diagnose and hard for women to recognise that they have more than the Baby Blues.

Biology, social pressures and psychology are all involved with the development of PND; it isn’t just a hormonal imbalance.

All women with PND need strong emotional support, although they will not easily ask for it. In fact, PND is sometimes know as the ‘smiling disease’ because so many women are able to put on a smiling face and fool the world that they are ok when they are not coping at all.

Although PND is most common after the birth of a first child, PND can occur in the following situations:

K     Women having their second, third, forth or later baby whether they had PND earlier or not

K     1 in 10 pregnant women (although it is often called AND or antenatal depression in this case)

K     Adoptive parents

K     3% of Fathers – up to 7% where a step child is involved in the family

K     Women who had a still birth

K     Mothers who’s baby died

K     Women with miscarriages

Treatment for PND will depend on the severity of the PND and other factors in the woman’s life. Support groups, counselling and anti-depressants are the most common treatment options; some women have found comfort from St John’s Wort, acupuncture, hospital stays, exercise, meditation and other relaxation procedures.


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