Monday, 11 September 2017 21:28

Does your friend have postnatal depression?

How to tell and how you can support her

So, your best friend has had a baby and rather than appearing over the moon with her little bundle of joy, you can't help but feel like she's struggling. She seems 'down', maybe she has lost interest in things she previously loved doing. Perhaps she's weepy, tense, sleeping badly or lacking confidence. Is she suffering from the 'baby blues', or could it be something more sinister?

Many mothers experience a significant drop in mood three or four days post-partum. This is usually attributed to hormonal changes after giving birth and as lactation begins. It is generally short-lived and is not usually cause for serious concern. Postnatal depression, on the other hand, may also appear around this time (or at any time during the first year after giving birth) and can last significantly longer.

The main symptoms may include:

  • Sadness and low mood

  • Lack of energy (feeling 'tired all the time') or difficulty sleeping

  • Difficulty bonding with the baby and emotional withdrawal from family/friends

  • Problems with concentration

  • Distressing thoughts

Your friend may not realise what is happening as depression can develop graduallly – but as an outsider you are ideally placed to spot the signs and offer her a lifeline.