How Postnatal Depression Affects the Mother
Postnatal depression causes changes in a mother’s sleeping quality, activity levels and changes in her diet. These complications added to the normal stress of taking care of a newborn child often affects a mother’s immune system and the mother may become sick more often or experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, general pain, chest pain and headaches. Mothers who are left untreated for postnatal depression are often still mentally unwell even after the baby turns one-year-old and a mother now has an increased risk of experiencing general severe depression over the next five-year period.
How Postnatal Depression Affects the Partner
Partners often deal with feelings of helplessness and confusion in the presence of postnatal depression. This creates a strain in the relationship during a very important time in both of their lives, and the partner may also begin to feel anxiety and depression. Partners should be a part of the postnatal treatment in order to gain an understanding of the condition, which allows them to provide encouragement and support to the mother.
Impacted Mother-Child Relationship
Mothers dealing with postnatal depression may become either less sensitive or overly concerned with a baby’s needs. A mother may begin to feel resentment for the child and in worst cases may even endanger the infant. This could lead to the child being more fussier than usual as well as other issues such as digestive troubles. This type of interaction may also affect the child’s later development—an infant born in such an environment may cause delays in a child’s language and cognitive development, behavioral difficulties, social issues and later parenting skills.
Ramifications on Fertility
Postnatal depression reduces the chances of a mother having more than two children in her lifetime. This is especially true when a mother suffers from postnatal depression with her first child. Experts are still trying to determine why postnatal depression affects the chances of having a third child, while it does not have a large effect on the production of a second child. These findings have led experts to believe that emotional health has an important factor in fertility and consistent steps are being taken to encourage healthy mental health in new mothers.
Postnatal Depression and Family
Besides the impact that that postnatal depression has on the partner, any other children in the family are also affected. Talk to them and seek help so as not to leave them out; they surely know something is wrong. Siblings need to know that it is not somehow their fault that their mother is depressed and that it is being treated. Make sure that children continue with their regular activities and enlist the help of relatives and friends to pick them up and drop them off to extracurricular activities if needed.