Thursday, March 6, 2014

De-Stigmatising Postnatal Depression

"There are a number of causes of postnatal depression, but being a 'bad mother' is not one of them."
~Kylie Woolcock

Depression is a far more common phenomenon than most of the non-depressed world is readily aware of. And of the particular nuances of this black dog, postnatal depression seems just as common as overall depression is.

One in six Australian mothers experience depression postnatally.

Like all depressed people, postnatally depressed women cry out from within themselves for support and guidance to get through the troubled days of dark uncertainty.


There are the reasons of isolation, of a lack of anticipation, preparedness and awareness (who could adequately prepare for every eventuality for such a significant life change as the coming of a baby?), of self-doubting, as well as the core deficits of self-concept. Deficits of attachment are also linked.

But it is more useful to look at some of the myths surrounding the prevalence of postnatal depression, and to dispel them.


MYTH: Women who suffer from postnatal depression are bad mothers.

Women who suffer from postnatal depression are not bad mothers. The trouble with depression is the doubting involved compounds, and thoughts of failing our babies and our families start in unfounded ways. But the more we doubt, and the more we entertain ourselves as failures, the more we block out signs of our positive self-concept, only to invite evidence of negativity - of seeing the failures in bright lights.

We should listen to the positive sources of encouragement in our lives and believe them.

MYTH: Being depressed will harm the baby.

Being depressed does not necessarily harm the baby. Especially when we admit our weakness, and we draw upon strength from trusted others, with help also from psychotherapy, we offset most of the possible negative effects on the baby. Getting our support is vital, as is journeying with our doctors regarding medications where they are required.

MYTH: Being depressed lasts a long time.

Depressed mothers do not necessarily remain depressed over the long term. The quicker we get treatment in any form of depression, or in any mental illness for that matter, the quicker our response of recovery. While some people will be prone to longer term symptoms, most react well to available treatments.


Postnatal or postpartum depression is as common as overall depression is. Many more women are affected than we often realise. There is no shame in any depression. The quicker we ask for help and get the treatment we need, the quicker we recover, generally.

穢 2012 S. J. Wickham.

Further Reading: Kylie Woolcock, "Postnatal Depression" in Counselling in Practice, vol. 30:9 - September 2011.

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