Many women don't realise they have postnatal depression because it can develop gradually. However, it's quite common as it affects one in 10 women who have recently given birth. Learn how to recognise its symptoms before it becomes a more serious problem
By Dr Janice TUNG,
Associate Consultant and Associate Professor Tan Thiam Chye, Visiting Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital
Postnatal depression (PND), sometimes referred to as post-partum depression, is sometimes confused with baby blues. Unlike baby blues, PND is an illness that's unlikely to get better as quickly as baby blues, and without help. Women suffering from PND often think of themselves as weak or abnormal, but the truth is, it's common, affecting one in 10 women who have recently delivered.
Those at risk include:
PND often develops within the first few months after giving birth, particularly in the first five weeks. However, it can start at any time during the first year. Depression can suddenly creep up or it could even have been with you during pregnancy and did not lift after the birth of your baby.
What Happens During Your Postnatal Visit
It's more likely to be for a few reasons rather than just one. You could be vulnerable to PND with your second baby even if you were fine with your first and vice versa. Certain circumstances may make you more vulnerable to PND including:
The signs and symptoms of PND are different for every mum. In fact, your family or friends may spot the signs before you do. The common symptoms include:
It's important to note that many mums have at least one of these feelings at some time. It's normal to have good and bad days. However, if you're feeling many of these symptoms on most days and they don't get better, you could have PND.
Baby Has Come Home: Dealing with Changes
With help, you'll get better. You may be prescribed psychological treatment or "talk therapy"
— this is especially useful for patients who are reluctant to use medications or who have milder forms of depression. Your doctor may refer you to a support group, counsellor or psychotherapist.
If the depression is more severe, medication will be required along with psychological therapy. Possible side effects as well as an individual's response or particular needs will be considered.
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Read these next:
The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific
This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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