Did you know that Post Natal Depression can actually affect you even MORE deeply in your first child’s fourth year?
And that if you experienced Antenatal or Postnatal Depression in that child’s first year, you are even more likely to experience it now?
Surprised? Me too…
But it does offer some explanation to the turmoil within, and that I’ve witnessed in other Mothers whose first child is the same age as mine.
A study by researchers at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute observed more than 1500 women, all whom gave birth in public hospitals in Melbourne, Australia. The results from this study showed that symptoms of postnatal depression peaked when the child was four years old, at 14.5%, higher than at any time in the first 12 month period after birth! That’s 1 in 3 Mums experiencing PND, when we thought we were long past it. How wrong we were!
But why is this? While further studies are needed, the largest precursor to PND at this point is to have been flagged for antenatal or postnatal depression in the months prior to or following the birth of your first child. Other indicators were stressful life events, age (18-24 years at highest risk), low income, and intimate partner violence.
Now, I wouldn’t say that ANY of those indicators have affected my life – I live a very fortunate life indeed! But for some reason, this year really has been a hard one.
Maybe its because I’ve been sleep deprived for four years.
Maybe its the weight of living overseas for 10 years.
Maybe its missing my ‘village’.
Maybe its all the expectations of what I thought being four would mean for my baby.
Maybe its the fact that she is so far from being a baby, yet doesn’t quite feel old enough to be considered a child, and we’re somewhere in the middle of this emotional rollercoaster ride together…
The one thing I know though, is that I can take control of this. And these are the steps I take daily, that always tend to lift my spirit and give me strength to keep living an abundant life…
- GET SOCIAL. Women are social creatures. We inherently NEED a village of other women, those who ‘get’ what we’re going through. To simply be there to share time, to listen, to reminisce, to smile with, to cry with. No matter what, you’ve GOT to get out and socialise!
- MOVE YOUR BODY. When I feel myself slipping, exercise can feel like a chore. Thankfully, that little Miss 4 years old also works as a great Personal Trainer. Whether I like it or not, she will get me moving. ‘Lets go for a run Mummy!’ or “Push me higher Mummy!” She has been imprinted that exercise is FUN. Moving your body is FUN. And I know how good it is for all of us. So start moving again! Let the endorphins flow, build muscle tone, LOVE the skin your in. BE HEALTHY. Inside, and out!
- NOURISH YOUR BODY. Food is fuel, there is no denying that! My Mom used to say to me “Garbage in, Garbage out”, as in, put processed crap in, and you’ll feel gross inside and your appearance will suffer too! Be mindful of what you eat. If you have a really bad day and that whole chocolate bar gets demolished, so be it. But don’t do it tomorrow…don’t let that be your every day!
- GIVE YOURSELF A MOTIVATION CORNER. Somewhere that has photos, inspiring quotes, or pretty items picked up along your life. Refresh it whenever your feeling sad. Make sure its somewhere you will see, every day, and be inspired.
- WRITE A GRATITUDE JOURNAL. Write 3 things you are grateful for, or more than that. Do this every day. Or simply any time you have a moment to yourself to think. Reflect on this as you need to…it can make a world of difference.
- CHANGE IT UP. Change up your environment! For some lucky ones, this might mean a few days away. Try moving your furniture around. Start decluttering. CREATE SPACE in your life to welcome in the goodness that is just around the corner! If anything, you’ll be distracted by the change and feel your mood instantly lifted.
- MEDITATE. If only for a minute. Give yourself a chance to breathe! And if you think you don’t have time or don’t know how, here’s a super quick, effective and simple way to fit it in
And PLEASE, if it all seems too much, seek professional advice!
Talking about mental health is so important, and something that we all need to do more of. As Mums, let’s support each other!
If experiencing any depressive symptoms please call the National Perinatal Depression Helpline on 1300 726 306 (Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm if in Australia) or for further information check out http://www.panda.org.au/