Postnatal depression is something that needs treatment and it is sad that so many women are left to suffer in silence. It is not perhaps that difficult to understand why such ignorance persists. A new mother after all is treated as somewhat of a minor celebrity. People react differently around those expecting a child. It is almost as if we are primed as a species to behave this way and can’t help but feel a collective happiness for the arrival of a new life. The notion that the person who has taken part in this miracle could be immune to its joys is something that seems to contradict some deeper instinct. But, we are social beings and we have evolved beyond functional birth and procreation. Such events are informed by thousands of years of culture and civilisation. The enormity of bringing a new life into the complex world we live in is incredibly daunting. It is a new existence that is forever tied to ours, a responsibility that cannot be undone…an echo that reverberates endlessly into our future. It is not difficult to see how passing this Rubicon might scare the uninitiated. Factor in poor financial circumstances, marital problems, lack of a support network, physical complications following birth such as infection, insomnia and so on, and you begin to see how this happy event might become an unrelenting barrage of stress inducing moments. Add into the mix the pervasive social media that afflicts us all and through which this sufferer now has to face other newly minted mothers (who have seemingly taken to the process like a duck to water) as they cluck proudly and ping a never ending stream of glowing images of themselves and child to her phone. In this environment is it any wonder that feelings of guilt and fear that they must be doing something wrong are magnified? People are so often unknowingly cruel. A running narrative of how great somebody has it is unlikely to make anyone else as happy as they are, but maybe that’s the point. Nevertheless, technology has helped in some measure. Netmums.com, for example, was set up following its founder’s (Justine Roberts) own battle with postnatal depression and it is a great online support network for those experiencing problems.
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