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Medical tests and treatment

What are the commonly used names & terms and their differences?
There are three terms that are commonly used:
  • Baby Blues – 50 to 80% of women experience the ‘blues’ within the first week after the birth of a baby, around the time the milk comes in. The common symptoms are tearfulness, low mood, anxiety, and poor concentration. Difficulty with breast feeding can accompany these changes. Although upsetting, Baby Blues is very common. Usually no other treatment other than reassurance and support is required and the condition is typically mild and short lived.
  • Postnatal Distress – will apply to a much larger group of women, possibly around 80 – 90%. This is an ‘umbrella’ term used to include; antenatal and postnatal blues and depression, anxiety, psychosis and birth trauma. For many women anxiety is often the biggest symptom and sometimes separate to depression. Antenatal Distress – symptoms occur antenatally.
  • Postnatal Depression – 20 to 30% of mothers are affected by an episode of depression for a month or longer, this can occur up to two years after the birth of a baby. Common symptoms include; tearfulness, anxiety, anger, depressed mood, guilt, lack of concentration, poor or increased appetite, feelings of tiredness, inability to cope with baby and with routine tasks, loss of interest in sexual activity and insomnia.
  • Postnatal Psychosis (Post Partum Psychosis) – a severe psychiatric disturbance where the mother is ‘out of touch with reality’. It occurs in about one in five hundred pregnancies. The causes of postnatal psychosis are not fully understood but hormonal and biological imbalances are contributing factors. It occurs in normal women, living in normal circumstances. It differs from other mental disorders as it appears to be a specifically pregnancy–related psychosis. Visit www.pnpsupport.org.nz for further information.
  • Birth Trauma - arising from events before, during, after or throughout the whole of the birth experience, also known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Visit www.tabs.org.nz for further information.
  • It is now a known fact that men (up to 10%) are also affected by symptoms of antenatal and postnatal distress and depression, and they also require support and help. The Post Natal Distress Support Network can provide information and resources for men, we have established relationships with several organisations who specialise in supporting the men.

Medical Treatments

  • Anti-depressant medication – medication is not for everyone, but in some cases, medication can be appropriate to assist in bringing balance back to life and getting you to a place where you can seek other treatment, support or help that will aid you in moving through the depression and back to life without PND.
  • Counseling or Psychotherapy – often a form of one on one support can be beneficial if you do not feel that you would benefit from a group situation. Or you feel that you need some one on one before moving to a group situation.
  • Support/therapy groups – being with other women who are feeling what you are feeling, and experiencing what you are experiencing, can be incredibly empowering and healing. To be without judgement and to feel that you are not alone. To have the opportunity to make new friendships with women who know about the PND challenge in your life.