If you feel that you have become less happy during your pregnancy or after giving birth, you may have a postnatal depression or a postnatal mood change. Your health visitor may help you find out if you have either of these.

Postnatal mood change

More than 50% of all new mothers may feel sad and unrestful or even fearful a few days after giving birth. This is called postnatal mood change and may last from a few hours to a couple of days.
2-3 months after the birth, the health visitor will talk to you about how you feel. At this conversation, you are to complete a questionnaire. Based on your answers, you and the health visitor will assess whether you need special support and are at risk of having a postnatal depression.

You can get help

If you are suffering from postnatal depression, you will be offered a visit from a specially trained health visitor. Together, you will determine whether group sessions at the Health Care Service is the solution for you or whether you are to be referred to another specialist.

What is postnatal depression?

Postnatal mood change and postnatal depression are two different things. Postnatal mood changes occur a few days after giving birth and will last from a few hours to a couple of days. You can read more about the symptoms further down the page.

Symptoms of postnatal depression may appear before the birth. Others may not show symptoms until some months after the birth.

Examples of symptoms of postnatal depression are that you:

  • feel depressed and sad and become tearful
  • lack interest in your surroundings
  • have less energy and are very tired
  • experience problems sleeping
  • have decreased or increased appetite
  • have difficulty concentrating - problems remembering things
  • lack self-confidence
  • have a sense of guilt or self-recrimination
  • are more irritable and may have bursts of anger
  • immerse yourself in work
  • are afraid of not coping with being a parent
  • are afraid of being alone or leaving the home
  • are afraid of harming the child
  • have thoughts of suicide

There is never one single reason for a depression. It is a combination of psychological, biological and social reasons.

Some of the factors that may play a role in developing a depression are:

  • hereditary factors
  • hormonal factors
  • previous tendency to depression
  • tiredness because of sleep deprivation
  • a tendency to make very high demands on yourself
  • partnership difficulties
  • a bad relationship to your own parents
  • separation from the child, e.g. if the child is hospitalised
  • a bad experience in connection with the pregnancy or the birth
  • several stressful factors at the same time

Tell people about how you feel - seek help.

Talk to your family, your own doctor, your friends, people you trust. Accept all the practical help you can get:

  • let the other parent take care of the child as much as possible
  • if possible, get someone to help with the daily chores in the home
  • go out every day and meet other people
  • participate in your mothers’ group

Postnatal depression will pass. How long it lasts varies depending on how severe the depression is and the help you get.

Postnatal depression can be treated with a good result - it does not last for ever.