Postnatal depression is what happens when an individual becomes depressed after having a baby. It is different from the ‘baby blues’. It usually develops in the first four to six weeks after childbirth although in some cases it may not develop for several months. New mothers may also have an existing depression, which they have experienced before and during pregnancy. Many new mothers experience this severe depression without recognising it or realising that it is a treatable illness. This causes needless distress, which also affects family and friends. It can last for weeks or several months.
Sometimes, there may be an obvious reason; often there is none. It can be particularly distressing when the mother has been especially looking forward to having their baby throughout the months of pregnancy. They may feel guilty for feeling like this or even feel that they can't cope with being a mother, or they may feel very sad and cry frequently. Some mothers with PND feel anxious and worry about their own health and that of the baby. They may suffer from panic attacks and feel tense and irritable all the time. Most depressed mothers feel tired and lack energy. They may feel unable to concentrate or find simple tasks confusing. Some mothers experience pains with no apparent cause (other than tension and anxiety). Many have problems sleeping and a poor appetite. Many depressed mothers lose interest in sex. Postnatal depression can interfere with your day-to-day life and can be associated with increased anxiety. Some women feel they're unable to look after their baby or they feel too anxious to leave the house or keep in touch with friends.
Read the NHS self-help guide to Postnatal Depression