Identifying Postnatal Depression
Why is PND hidden?
The early signs of PND are recognizable and help and interventions are available. But it can be very difficult to identify and diagnose PND in the early stages of its development for some of the following reasons:
- Many women experiencing PND do not seek help. Many do not know what PND is or how to recognise the signs. What couples know or believe of PND is reinforced by the media which may not be accurate, either too sensationalized or dismisses it as an understandable reaction to the stresses of life with a new baby.
- For some women the stigma associated with depression prevents them asking for help. It is very hard for a woman with PND to admit that she is not coping and to ask for help. Our society puts great pressure on mothers to 'cope'. Motherhood is portrayed as intuitive and fulfilling. Often new mothers pretend to 'cope' because they are ashamed to ask for help, especially if they are being told to be more appreciative of what they have or that they should just feel better. Symptoms are consequently masked.
- Many women fail to recognise PND in the early weeks because they often attribute how they feel to other parts of their lives and they assume that things will get better. Often women will at this time say 'I blamed tiredness for the way I feel, but now she sleeps and I still can't. Something is 'wrong'.
- A woman might also blame herself or her partner for not feeling the way she expected to feel. Often couples will seek relationship counselling when PND is the underlying problem.
- Some women believe that if they admit that they are not coping or that they sometimes feel out of control with their baby, that the authorities will take away their baby and so they remain silent in order to avoid this.
- Furthermore, even the most caring health professional can miss PND. Many do not know what to look for. It can be difficult to know when a woman's struggles are a part of normal transitional adjustments and when they become symptoms of PND.
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