Despite the vast amount of information available about Post Natal Depression (PND), there are still a lot of misconceptions about this illness that results in the tragic and avoidable stories we hear. So here are Five Dangerous Myths about PND and the truths that may have the potential to save a life.
- Myth #1: PND will get better with time: because PND is associated with the hormonal fluctuations women experience after having a baby, many people believe with the passage of time, their hormone levels will stabilise and they will start to feel much better.
If left untreated PND can result in long-term depression. It can affect the development of social and communication skills in children and jeapordise your relationship. If identified early, PND can be treated and completely cured. The treatment is more effective the earlier it is delivered. Leaving PND to fester and grow is dangerous for everybody.
- Myth #2: A mother with PND is unable to care for their child. The stereotypical image we see of PND is of a parent who is so overwhelmed by the emotional turmoil that they are unable to meet the basic needs of their child and tend to their household.
While extreme cases of post-natal psychosis can result in neglect and even serious harm to the child, many parents with PND are fully able to feed, bathe and even play with their children. They may have a spotless home and look immaculate, but having PND does not make you incompetent in any way, instead, it creates a heavy fog that makes it harder for you to find your true joy and true self in many situations.
- Myth #3: You aren’t crying, so it can’t be PND. Raising a new-born is no joke. The hormonal fluctuation, sleep deprivation, and unending pressure will result in tears at some point for everybody. It is only healthy to recognise and indulge these emotions with a good cry. But that doesn’t mean you have PND, nor does it mean you don’t have PND if you don’t have a good cry.
It is totally possible to have PND and not shed a single tear. You may instead feel irritable, tired or even indifferent and numb. Whether its sadness or something else you are feeling, if you are not feeling like yourself, speak to your doctor and ask them to help you work out if you may have post-natal depression.
- Myth #4: PND happens in the early months with a new-born. The Baby Blues tend to arrive in the first two weeks after a baby is born, causing mothers to feel tearful and anxious. Though the early months may be the hardest period of adjusting to being apparent, postnatal depression can occur anytime, from the first two weeks until the baby’s first birthday. It can appear gradually or be suddenly be triggered after weeks sleep deprivation, the baby being unwell or even feeding difficulties.
- Myth #5: PND only happens to women: While fathers may not experience the same biological changes after their baby is born, they can also experience significant depression in their child’s first year. One in 10 men are thought to experience PND with an increased likelihood if their partner also PND.
There are treatments and support available for PND, so please don’t suffer alone. Tell a friend, your GP or contact an accredited helpline for Postnatal depression (eg. Maternal Mental Health Alliance), or join the discussion on twitter every day this week at 8-9pm on #PNDHour