It’s not just hormones
Post natal depression is surprisingly common as studies have shown one in eight women experience depression following the birth of their baby. The tendency to self-diagnose even persistent feelings of low mood and sadness and dismiss symptoms of anxiety as a failure to cope, or ‘just the blues’ can prevent mothers from getting help. Depression can be serious and affect a woman’s ability to function and bond with her new baby.
For the majority of women, given the opportunity for gaining support early, the outcomes are very positive. The Napier Family Centre’s therapeutic Post Natal Adjustment programme has been running for six years and the participants’ feedback has been consistently encouraging. The women often report a change in enjoyment for their baby, more confidence with caring for their baby, having more realistic expectations of themselves, and feeling like they have skills to cope when feeling anxious and sad. Over the eight weekly sessions the group explores PND signs and symptoms, impacts of stress on wellbeing and strategies, attachment theory, the causes and risk factors of PND, depression and how it affects thoughts, feelings and behaviours, self-esteem and supports in the community. It is a very personal journey for the women and often friendships develop.
Partners have a place in the programme. Partners can feel really anxious and helpless, like they cannot do anything right and it is distressing to see someone you care about struggling with low self-worth, low energy and losing interest in activities. A men’s group meets twice and is facilitated by a male counsellor. They focus on the father’s relationship with their children, the emotional and developmental needs of the children and what fathers can do to support mother and child, when struggling with PND may mean that she is not always optimally available for the child/children. Feedback from the men often reflects an appreciation and deeper understanding of how it is for their partner and confidence with communicating how they can help.
The programme is supported by the generosity of philanthropic trusts so it is free for participants. The next programme begins 11th October so to find out if this is the right programme for you have a chat to your Plunket nurse, GP or contact Sheryl Smith, our counselling services manager. Ph 843 7280 Email [email protected]centre.org.nz