Postnatal depression is a severe and long-term condition thought to affect about 10 per cent of women.
Compared to the baby blues, postnatal depression is a more severe and long-term condition thought to affect about 10 per cent of women. Its onset may occur immediately following the birth or any time within the first eighteen months or two years. If you are not getting the sleep or the practical help and support you need the situation is exacerbated. Parenthood brings new demands as your relationship undergoes adjustment. You may even find yourself confronting unresolved difficulties stemming from your own upbringing.
Postnatal depression can be serious with typical symptoms including persistent feelings of depression, constant fatigue, anxiety, bouts of tears and apathy. It may manifest as negative feelings of inadequacy, lack of motivation, isolation, guilt, and resentment towards the newborn baby. Physical symptoms such as loss of appetite, diarrhoea or constipation are also common.
There are thought to be many causes of postnatal depression and it is thought that every person experiences a unique accumulation of varying factors. Common to most cases is the massive drop in oestrogen and progesterone levels following childbirth. Nutritional imbalances are also likely and these in turn will effect the body’s ability to regulate hormonal imbalance.
Studies link nutritional status to both maternal behaviour as well as physiological and emotional fluctuations. In one study using rats, it was found that the zinc-deficient mothers neglected their offspring. They were indifferent to their babies, did not build nests, neglected to nurse their young and in some cases abandoned their young.
As pregnancy nears its end, hormonal changes prepare a woman’s body for childbirth. Zinc packs into the placenta and copper levels rise. Zinc and copper work together to balance each other and if one is deficient, the balance is adversely affected.
Following the birth, zinc levels fall as the placenta is expelled. As zinc plays an integral role in balancing hormones, it is considered to be a major factor contributing to both postnatal baby blues and depression.
Further nutritional deficiencies may include essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 oils found in fish or flax seed oil, B complex vitamins, especially B6 and folic acid and iron. If you suffered a large amount of blood loss during childbirth, iron levels are likely to be low, causing fatigue.
Furthermore, research indicates that a zinc-deficient newborn is likely to cry more and be less settled. If you are suffering from postnatal depression your baby is likely to sense this and may become easily agitated. Thus begins a cycle that can be difficult to break. Although there is a lot you can do for yourself, you may need professional help as well. It is important that you seek help if symptoms persist.