Postnatal depression

Posted on 28 May 2013

Feeling blue after the birth of your baby? Postnatal depression affects at least one in every 10 moms within the first year of having a newborn. The trick is to recognise it and then you can tackle it says Jonathan Nel, a clinical psychologist at Mediclinic Morningside.

I’ve just had a baby and should be filled with joy but find I am teary and anxious. Could this be postnatal depression?
Postnatal depression (PND) is estimated to affect at least 10% to 15% of mothers during the first year of having a newborn, often within the first four weeks. Not to be confused with the baby blues or three-day blues, which commonly starts on day three and can overwhelm you with sentiment, tears and irritability but is gone by day 10, PND is a much deeper, more long-term depression.

It usually kicks in within six weeks of giving birth, either swiftly or gradually and can be mild or severe. But it can be a tough one for mothers to deal with at a time when everyone around them expects them to be blissfully happy, while they may be beset with varying levels of guilt, exhaustion, weepiness, nervousness and lethargy.

The good news is that once you have recognised it you can tackle it.

How would I know if I have PND?
If you feel that you are not the mom you thought you’d be, and suffer any of the symptoms below almost daily for more than two weeks, you might have PND.
You could be feeling:
•    Weepy, sad and low.
•    Asocial rather than raring to get out there and see friends and family.
•    Anxious and nervous.
•    Worthless.
•    Obsessed with your sleep and how much sleep you’re not getting.
•    Inadequate and incompetent.
•    Guilty because of all you’re feeling, versus how you’d imagined you’d feel.
•    Full of lethargy.
•    Lacking in enthusiasm and enjoyment.
•    Lacking interest in yourself and your baby.
•    Forgetful – perhaps you keep losing things?
•    Imagining that you could harm yourself or your baby.

What can I do about PND?
Once you know what you are dealing with, it is always easier to tackle issues. PND affects many women and is nothing to be ashamed of, so don’t keep this to yourself, but look for help:
•    Explain it to your loved ones so that they can support you.
•    Seeing a therapist can help you to work out the issues behind your PND.
•    Group therapy with other women who are grappling with the same issues can be comforting.
•    Antidepressant medication may be useful in treating the symptoms of PND, and it is recommended that you get the advice of psychiatrist for this.

Get support
Speak to your doctor, contact the Post Natal Depression Support Association on 083 309 3960, 082 882 0072, or visit for more information.


The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.

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