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Postnatal Depression (PND) Symptoms

Signs of Depression

Strong negative emotions make us context-blind (caetextic) that is why depressed people see the world in simplistic black and white terms. Postnatal depression is a form of depression, so whilst there are specific symptoms that you can look out for the more general signs of depression also apply:

Baby Blues Symptoms

Baby blues often occurs a few days after delivery and lasts for a few days. If baby blues lasts more than two weeks then it has developed into postnatal depression. Around 50% of women will suffer from the baby blues after giving birth, but for most of them it passes quickly.

The main symptoms of baby blues are:

Signs of Postnatal Depression

The following are some of the symptoms of postnatal depression that you may be experiencing personally or have noticed in your partner, family member or friend.

“When people get depressed, the disproportionate amount of dream sleep they do leads to a huge loss of energy. The person then suffers from a double whammy because they’re not getting enough of the deep, physically resting sleep because of the expansion of the dream sleep. Too much dream sleep leads to them waking up absolutely exhausted with no motivation whatsoever and feeling completely inadequate. Without motivation life seems meaningless.”

QUESTION: Why do women with PND dream so much?

ANSWER: “Dreaming is about metaphorically discharging unexpressed emotion from the previous day. Women who experience depression, or are vulnerable to it, do an excessive amount of worrying that causes an excessive need for dream sleep, which leads to exhaustion and a lack of motivation. They worry because their key emotional needs are not being met. Their relationships are falling apart and they have no support network. They’re lacking the coping skills to manage the life changes that the new baby has brought in, perhaps they had unrealistic expectations to begin with as to how easy it would be to have a baby and the emotions that go with having a baby.”

Psychotic Depression

When extreme stress overload undermines the brain’s ability to distinguish between dreaming reality and the real world, psychotic symptoms can appear. 1% of mothers will get psychotic postnatal depression. This requires specialist help and the doctor will refer the mother to stay in a safe environment that calms her down sufficiently so her relationship with the real world can be forged again.

Spotting Postnatal Depression Symptoms in Others

Many mothers do not recognise they have postnatal depression, and do not talk to family and friends about their true feelings. It's therefore important for partners, family members and friends to be able to recognise signs of postnatal depression at an early stage.

Find out about postnatal depression treatments.