Postnatal depression (PND) is a depressive disorder that usually occurs during the first few weeks or months of having a baby. Even though this is commonly associated with mothers, fathers can also develop depression before and after the birth of a child. The range of symptoms experienced depend on the severity of the depression and may include, among others; feelings of inadequacy and guilt, negative thoughts, feelings that life is meaningless, fearfulness and irritability, low self-esteem and lack of confidence. Specific causes of PND are unknown; however, precipitating factors may include physical, emotional and social changes that come with being a parent.
Support from a partner, family and/or friends are often helpful for someone with PND. However, occasionally parents may need counselling and sometimes medication to manage their PND. Further information about PND for parents can be sought by your local GP, maternal and child health nurse or a community health centre.
Written by Dr Pilate Ntsuke.