Everybody feels down from time to time but depressive illness is more than that. It is when several symptoms occur over the same time period. PND is very similar to clinical depression occurring at any other time except that there is the added complication of a baby (or two!).
PND can range from mild to severe. There are also different types of mood disorders or depression and this can affect how dangerous it is. At its most mild it is not at all dangerous and generally gets better with good support (emotional and practical), sleep and time. At it’s most serious it can be life threatening (from suicide or inattention) and can pose a risk to the baby. If you have any serious concerns then assessment by a mental health professional is needed. An unwell mother should be asked “have you ever thought of taking your own life”, “have you ever felt scared you might hurt yourself” “have you ever had scary or dangerous thoughts about your baby? …what were those thoughts?” “Have you ever felt like harming your baby?”
Asking these questions could save someone’s life. Suicide has been the single biggest cause of maternal death (death in the first 6 weeks after having a baby) in several western countries in recent decades.
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