Stress is completely normal in the first weeks after giving birth, but sometimes the "baby blues" can become something more serious. Find out more here.

Having a baby is a life-changing experience. Your body went through insane changes, your hormones were more of a roller coaster than they were during puberty, and you created a human life inside your body in less than a year! Now that baby has arrived, you are dealing with 2am feedings, endless nappy changes, and learning to decode your baby's cries. Your hormones are still fluctuating and you are operating on very little sleep. You are still recovering from childbirth (which can take considerably longer if you had an episiotomy or Caesarean section) and may even be preparing to return to work.

Feeling a little down is perfectly normal and even expected in the first several weeks after giving birth, but sometimes the "baby blues" can escalate into something more serious.

When this is the case, certain psychological treatments can prove highly beneficial. Schema therapy, a form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), is known to be especially effective for people dealing with stress and depression. But what is postnatal depression and why does it occur?

Postnatal depression is a very real condition that affects more than ten per cent of mothers within the first year after birth. While "normal" baby blues generally begin immediately and last for approximately two weeks, postnatal depression can begin any time within the first year and can last from a few months to a few years.

The causes of postnatal depression vary from person to person. If you have a personal or familial history of depression or anxiety, including during pregnancy, you may be more prone to developing postnatal depression. Mums with little or no support from friends, family, or their partner may also be susceptible to PND. It should be noted that not all mothers in these situations will experience postnatal depression, and some mums who develop the condition may not have any extenuating factors.

Postnatal depression tends to creep up gradually, so recognising symptoms may not be an easy task for new mums. Some signs to look out for include the following: change in appetite, change in sleeping habits (not related to baby's schedule), agitation, anxiety, apathy, trouble bonding with your baby, loss of interest in sex, and thoughts of self-harm or of harming your baby. While these symptoms can be worrisome or downright frightening, know that you are not alone and help is available.

If you suspect you are exhibiting symptoms of postnatal depression, reach out. Talk to your partner. Talk to a trusted friend or family member. Talk to your doctor. Antidepressants may be an option, as might schema therapy or even a postnatal mums’ group. The sooner you express your concerns, the sooner you can find a solution that works for you and your family.

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