It is little known that up to 10% of all women fall victim to postnatal depression, also known as postpartum depression. Postnatal depression is different from the short and mild depression many women suffer after giving birth, but which tends to quickly resolve. This milder form of depression is often referred to as the ‘baby blues’.

Just as the severity of postnatal depression varies greatly so does the appropriate choice of treatment. If you have postnatal depression you may need counselling, psychological therapy or possibly a combination of therapy and medication. If you are very depressed you may also need a period of inpatient treatment in a hospital setting. If at any time you are feeling unable to care for your own or your baby’s safety you should ideally contact a support person and in any case, you should make contact with your local hospital emergency department immediately. (This page is electronically copyright protected – do not copy – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

Being informed

Whilst this information is intended to familiarise you with the symptoms associated with postnatal depression, from the mildest to the most severe forms. The list of symptoms should not be seen as cause for alarm, nor should you make your own diagnosis. It is important to remember that with adequate treatment a full recovery is common.

Regrettably, many new mums go through very severe depression without knowing that it is a treatable illness. Familiarising yourself with the symptoms can assist you in seeking out help.

Common postnatal experiences

It is entirely normal for a mild depression or mood swings to happen in the first week or so after the birth of the baby. Mum may easily become teary and upset without knowing why. Confusion, a lack of concentration and poor memory are also common. It is thought that many of these changes are related to a change in hormone levels in the mother, the effect of having to care for the baby such as feeding problems, learning settling routines and so on, as well as the common experience of sleeplessness.

Many mother feel as if they may not be able to cope once they get home with the baby. Being able to secure some regular commitment of help from friends and family at this stage can be very reassuring. Getting assistance so that you can have a rest from baby is also critical, especially during the day if the baby is not a good sleeper.

If your baby blues don’t lift or you feel you are not coping, you should contact a counsellor and your Doctor immediately.

The experience of postnatal depression

Postnatal depression may come about as the symptoms experienced with ordinary postnatal baby blues get worse and more upsetting as time goes on. Another type comes on more gradually and may not be noticed until some weeks after baby’s birth.

Many mothers report feeling:

  • more and more hopeless,
  • miserable and sad for no known reason
  • tearful for most of the day,
  • always tired and lethargic, feeling unable to cope and not able to care for herself ir baby,
  • anxious or even panicked, sometimes about issues to do with her own or baby’s health, or perhaps surrounding new challenges with baby, socialising or leaving the home,
  • obsessional thoughts about a variety of issues including whether they are fit to care for the baby or feeling as if they may harm themselves or baby. Whilst these fears are often a part of the illness of depression rather than being a real threat, they should nonetheless be reported to your Doctor, or your counsellor/psychologist,
  • sleeping difficulties.

This is not a complete list of the symptoms of depression.

Seeking medical treatment

A visit to your doctor is recommended if you think you are suffering from symptoms of postnatal depression. Many doctors will recommend the use of anti-depressant drugs. Whether you wish to take such medication or not, it is important to nonetheless have a check up and to rule out any other medically related issues which may be leading to symptoms of depression.

Seeking out counselling

Professional counselling by an accredited counsellor or psychologist can make a significant difference if you are depressed. You will also be able to receive a partial rebate for counselling for depression from Medicare if you chose to obtain a Medicare Health Care plan from your G.P.

For some people, counselling alone assists them in recovering from depression. If you would like to discuss the options please contact Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney.


All health information provided on is general in nature and is provided for information purposes only. The information contained on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat psychological conditions, nor should it be used as an alternative to obtaining counselling or psychological advice from a qualified counsellor, psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist or medical practitioner. Please consult a counselling professional or a health care provider about any health concerns you might have about yourself or others. Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney Pty. Ltd does not accept liability for any loss or damage associated with the use of this site.

This site may contain links to third party sites including sites on counselling, psychologist services, mental health and other unrelated material. The existence of these links is not to be construed as an endorsement by Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney Pty. Ltd as to the accuracy or quality of the information or services provided by these third party sites and we do not accept liability for any loss or damaged associated with the use of these third party sites.

This page is electronically copyright protected – do not copy – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD

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