Postnatal depression is a serious condition and one that can have a profound impact on both the parent and their family. Fortunately, there are tools and resources available to help support parents who suffer from postnatal depression, including the Stress Anxiety Depression Scale (SADS). In this article, we discuss what postnatal depression is, how to spot it, and provide practical tips for providing emotional guidance and getting access to professional help.
Understand Postnatal Depression.
Postnatal depression is a common mood disorder that affects around one in ten women who give birth in the UK each year. It is a greater problem for some ethnic minority groups, with prevalence rates of postnatal depression among South Asian women at least three times higher than the general population. People with postnatal depression often feel tired, anxious and overwhelmed, and struggle to cope with the demands of looking after their new baby. It can also cause feelings of guilt, stress and isolation as well as disrupt sleep and invite intrusive thoughts. Learning more about what postnatal depression entails can help you or your loved ones to recognise it early, allowing for timely treatment.
Diagnose Postnatal Depression With the SAD Scale.
The Stress Anxiety Depression (SAD) Scale provides a quick and easy way to assess postnatal depression and other forms of perinatal mental health issues. This assessment tool was specifically designed for use in the perinatal period and measures three primary dimensions of distress: stress/anxiety, depression, and somatization. It also offers an overall score as well as two bonus subscales which focus on parenting concerns and disruptive emotions. Asking your doctor or midwife to complete this scale will help you get a better understanding of your postnatal mental health and what kind of support you may need.
Talk to Health Professionals About Support Options.
It is important to speak with your doctor, midwife, or other healthcare professionals about postnatal depression and the options available to you. They can help provide emotional support and connect you with resources such as self-help materials, counselling services, support groups, and mental health specialist depending on your individual needs. You can also bring up specific treatments or therapies that you feel may be beneficial for you - like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which is particularly well suited for treating depression.
Reach Out to Support Groups and Organizations for Advice and Camaraderie.
Support groups and organizations can be a great source of comfort, connection, and information during this time. There are online communities available as well as organisations like Postpartum Support International that provide peer support services through volunteer networks as well as access to professionals. These organisations often have newsletters and events that you can benefit from so don’t hesitate to get involved in either of these!
5 Create an Environment of Emotional Safety at Home.
Taking care of a partner or friend in need of assistance after childbirth can be taxing. It is important to be mindful of one’s own needs while trying to provide emotional support and make sure that the environment in the home remains safe and comfortable. This means verbalising understanding, patience and empathy – leaving out blame or criticism. Validate your partner’s emotions, even if you feel frustrated or overwhelmed yourself in providing this care. Be honest about any difficulties you are having too and seek help from a professional if needed.