The experience of post-natal distress will be at least slightly different for everyone. PND is the many forms of ongoing distress/depression that may affect mums or dads before or after the birth of their baby. It affects at least 1 in 5 post-natal women and their families. PND varies in severity, when it begins (usually the 1st year) and can affect any mum or dad.
A woman with postnatal distress may lose interest in previously enjoyed activities, she may have negative and/or obsessive thoughts, be extremely tired but unable to fall asleep when baby is asleep, be distressed, angry and upset at times when there’s no reason, feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. A mum or dad with PND may feel like they are having real difficulty adjusting to parenthood.
It has long been recognized that not all women are fortunate enough to make a smooth transition to contented parenting, but until relatively recently, any form of post-natal distress was most often called post-natal depression or PND. We have come to realize, however, that many different things may underlie and trigger ‘PND’, that it is not necessarily depression (or even post-natal for some), and that there is value in recognizing these differences when trying to explain and address their effects.
The Wellington Post and Ante-Natal Distress Support Group network uses the term post and ante-natal distress to refer to the many forms of distress that may affect women at this time in their lives. Although not everyone finds it helpful to ‘label’ their experience, finding a name for it that makes sense to you, may help to understand and explain it to yourself and others. Some of the other terms you may hear about or see include:
Another extreme form of post-natal distress is post-natal mania – characterized by irritability, enormous (and unusual) energy, busyness, grand plans, and marked inability to relax or sleep, which become increasingly problematic for others, but may not be recognized by the woman herself.
Other common mental health diagnoses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, anxiety disorder, and adjustment disorder, can also be used to refer to post-natal experiences, as can the processes of grief, loss, trauma, and stress.
But it becomes problematic when its starts to interfere with your sense of wellbeing and confidence. Constant worry, difficulty sleeping, racing thoughts, feeling nervous, inability to sit still, concentrate or remember?
You may also experience panic attacks.
Another form of anxiety is postnatal OCD.
Post and Antenatal anxiety can be experienced on its own or in addition to depression.