What is antenatal and postnatal depression?

As part of the Clinical Psychology unit I am currently studying, we have done a fair bit on parental mental health. This week I thought I would talk about depression, addressing what antenatal and postnatal depression is. I hope this is useful for you and sheds light on new things you may not have considered before.

The Frugal Frenchie

Symptoms for antenatal depression

According to the diagnosis criteria (DSM-5)…

  • Chronic anxiety
  • Guilty
  • Incessant crying
  • Lack of energy- which lack of sleep doesn’t help
  • Relationship worries- will my partner leave once the baby is born?
  • Conflict with parents
  • Isolation – from friends, or due to not feeling the same as other mums
  • Fear to seek help – will my baby be taken away if I speak out?

Causes of antenatal depression

  • Physical

There are many physical changes during pregnancy. For some, body changes can be distressing: weight gain, swollen breasts, dizziness, nausea, exhaustion, heartburn, fainting etc. It can lower self-esteem and make normal, mundane activities suddenly seem unachievable or difficult, which can lead to isolation or feelings on inadequacy.

Hormonal changes and tiredness can also impact mental health – in fact, Ohayon & Roth (2003) found over 40% of participants reported symptoms of insomnia before developing a mood disorder, including depression and bipolar disorder. This was supported by findings showing that treating insomnia symptoms can be beneficial towards reducing/preventing depression (Londborg, et al, 2000).

What is antenatal and postnatal depression? Continue reading “What is antenatal and postnatal depression?”

What are mental health illnesses?

With people often misusing mental health terms, it can become difficult to truly understand the meaning of mental health. Are people just exaggerating? What can we do if people are truly struggling? Before answering these questions, I thought it’d be best to answer what are mental health illnesses? Let me know if this has been useful.

The Frugal Frenchie

What are mental health illnesses?

“Abnormal” behaviour

In the past, before mental health awareness, people would describe those, who showed “abnormal” behaviour as mad, crazy, or other derogatory words. This is something I’ve mentioned in a previous post about mental health stigma, so make sure to read that too.

Now, the sheer idea of “abnormal,” is controversial. What does this mean, exactly? Traditionally, it’d be defined as a behaviour or act that doesn’t conform to societal standards, expectations or norms. This is all subjective, however: whose norms are they? Who is establishing them? People’s behaviour, or judgements, are 100% subjective. Even our self-judgements are not necessarily fair representations, as our beliefs can be distorted.

As a matter of fact, in clinical psychology, “abnormal,” behaviour is not defined or measured according to how strange an act or behaviour is, how unjustified or irrational it may seem. It’s defined by the degree of interference the behaviour has on life, work and relationships. When somebody says “I love having my desk tidy, I’m so OCD about it,” that is not interfering with your life. It isn’t something that stops you working, restricts you doing activities you love and so on: that’s an incorrect and potentially offensive way of using the term OCD.

The degree to how a behaviour interferes with one’s life is an essential symptom for many mental health illnesses. Otherwise, it would be very hard to establish when somebody’s negative thoughts were just due to a bad week, or if it was associated with ill mental health.

Cultural and societal norms do not make the definition of “abnormal.”

Continue reading “What are mental health illnesses?”

Mental Health Stigma- does it still exist?

Mental Health Stigma- does it still exist? Perhaps a bold title and question to discuss, but it’s important to openly speak about it, out of fear of otherwise, subconsciously, becoming a silent supporter of this stigma. This is a different style of post, based on lectures that I have received during my BSc in Psychology. Hope you learn something new.

The Frugal Frenchie

Defining a stigma

First of all, do you know what is meant by a stigma? It can mean several things:

“a mark or sign of disgrace or discredit”
“disqualified from full social acceptance”
“negative effects of a label”

 

The Institute of Psychiatry actually described a stigma as having three components: that of ignorance (as a stigma is based on preconceived ideas and assumptions), prejudice and discrimination.

Note: discrimination and stigmas are not the same. Stigma focuses more on prejudice and ill-educated statements (a reason I’m writing this post today), whereas discrimination is more of an act. An act, preventing people from being treated equally or having equal access to opportunities or services. Continue reading “Mental Health Stigma- does it still exist?”