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What do we mean by Postnatal Depression?

Wherever we turn we see having a baby portrayed as a joyous event, with pictures and television commercials of happy babies and loving mothers. Of course happiness and affection are indeed part of having children, but what if this is not our experience? The love and affection we hope to have might be replaced by feelings of panic and dread in caring for this new young life. We may be exhausted from the birth and struggling to recover while now having a new baby to look after. It may seem as if our life has lost its joy and colour. We may feel filled with anxiety and anger; or just nothing at all, as if the baby is not ours.

Sadly although these feelings are not uncommon, it can feel like we are the only one who is experiencing them. Not only can we feel alone with these experiences, we can feel ashamed that we feel this way, perhaps believing it means there is something wrong or bad about us. We might try to behave as we think other new mothers do, so we attempt to go about our day trying to care for the baby and, as best we can, keep some kind of order in the house. But in our hearts we can feel so disappointed in our experience. We might try to avoid unpleasant feelings such as shame, anxiety, or frustration and anger, by keeping busy or allowing others to care for the baby as much as possible. But the more we hide our experiences the more separate and alone we can feel. The more alone we feel, the harder it becomes to share our fears and to find a way of understanding and managing them.