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Post Natal Depression

You are not alone.

Recently it was brought to my attention by another photographer just how very real and dangerous post natal depression can be. A lady had come in for a newborn shoot with her newborn and a preschooler, unfortunately soon after she had taken her own life. As a mother this moved me to the core and made me think my whole demographic is mums so I have a duty of care to do what I can to help.

Post natal depression is a word often spoken about (with a bit of a taboo sometime) but i still feel we all need to do more to recognise both how common post natal mental health conditions are and that we simply aren't doing enough to help.

Being a mother is hard work. Many women feel a bit down, tearful or anxious in the first week after giving birth. This is often called the "baby blues" and is so common that it's considered normal.

But if these symptoms go on for longer they could very well be markers for post natal depression.

Postnatal depression can start any time in the first year after giving birth.

Signs that you or someone you know might be depressed include:

  • a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood

  • lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world

  • lack of energy and feeling tired all the time

  • trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day

  • difficulty bonding with your baby

  • withdrawing from contact with other people

  • problems concentrating and making decisions

  • frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby

Many women do not realise they have postnatal depression, because it can develop gradually. You may find this video from essential parent useful.

Reading through the points above I am sure that most people have at least at some point felt one of more of the above, particularly the lack of energy and feeling tired all the time, a loss of interest in the wider world or withdrawing from contact with other people. As an isolated case they could of course be attributed to a bad day but if you are persistently having days like that then please do speak out.

Post Natal Depression has been to the forefront of media attention recently with Big Brother star and Tv Presenter Kate Lawler speaking out on her experience with post natal depression.Although completely in love with her new baby daughter, life suddenly felt extremely bleak and Kate was engulfed in a suffocating sadness. Despite having no history of mental health issues, she would find herself collapsed on the floor in the middle of the night, sobbing uncontrollably.

“When I look back at the first eight weeks, I feel like I went to the darkest place I’ve ever been in my life. I’m slowly coming out of the trenches now, but I’m a completely different person to who I was before I gave birth. Kate told The Sun Newspaper.

Kate is incredibly brave for speaking out and in doing so reducing the stigma surround post natal depression.

There seems to be an old fasioned ideology that if you open up and admit that you are feeling low that you are a bad mother and that is absolutely not true.

Remember that:

  • a range of help and support is available, including therapy

  • depression is an illness like any other

  • it's not your fault you're depressed – it can happen to anyone

  • being depressed does not mean you're a bad parent

  • it does not mean you're going mad

  • your baby will not be taken away from you – babies are only taken into care in very exceptional circumstances

At Olivia Christina Photography you will always find a non judgemental listening ear, a comfy sofa and a hot drink. Moving forward we are going to be introducing literacy on Post Natal Depression to our studio with helpline numbers clearly visable for those that need them.

We encourage everyone to talk to new parents and ask them how they are, how they really are. When Roman Kemp spoke out on his best friends suicide in a recent tv documentary “We would talk before, but it wasn’t as in-depth. Now we have the two-okay rule. We ask, ‘How are you doing? But how are you doing, really – mentally?” And maybe thats an approach we could all adopt. Ask twice, how are you doing, really? The more we talk about mental health, the more we break down stigmas and hopefully open dialogues which could save a life.

It may help you to identify which questions you may like to ask new mothers if you have concerns.

If you are struggling at the moment you are not alone. Never. Please seek help, you matter and there is help available - asking for help can be the hardest thing to do and it may seem like a show of weakness but I promise it is not and there is so much help available to you. Please ask and don't for one second think you friends or family will be better off without you. This simply is not true, this is a moment in time where you need carrying or hand holding and you may well be the one to help someone else in the same does you are in one day.

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