1. Baby
  2. Childbirth
  3. Postnatal
  4. Postnatal depression
  5. What is postnatal depression Q&A
Dr Martine Walker

Live Q&A Episode 11: Dr Martine Walker (GP)

GP, Dr Martine Walker, provides an insight into who is susceptible to Postnatal Depression, how to recognise the signs and how to find help. Take the opportunity to find out more about Postnatal Depression here on the Huggies site.

Can you tell me how I can help my friend. She hasn’t told me she has PND but I’m really worried about her. She just doesn’t seem to be coping at all and everything seems to be a big deal when really it’s not. She is super stressed and i also worry that she will hate me if I suggest that she has PND.

What a great friend you are! Excessive worry and ‘everything seeming to be a big deal’ are common symptoms of post natal depression particularly if this is different to what your friend was previously like. If she is a good friend, I think it is very unlikely she will hate you for gently asking her if she is OK and telling her you have noticed that she seems really stressed. In fact, she might be desperate for someone to notice how bad she feels. You might be a life saver! If you decide to ask her how she is feeling, it really important to be aware of the resources in your area you could suggest she be in contact with – her GP or early childhood sister are great first starts!

Thank you for raising this issue. I am a ‘survivor’ of PND and know just how bad life can seem. It takes alot of commitment from your family, especially your partner to stick with you. I still feel guilty for what I put my family through, do you have any tips on how to manage the guilt?

You are a mother! What more can I say? Every day mothers give, give, give! That your family needed to look after you during that hard time is more than made up for every day by the commitment and love you shower on your family. I suppose my only concern is that you may still be a bit depressed. Guilt is a very definite symptom of persisting depression. Do you think it may be worth a catch up with your GP, therapist or early childhood sister?

What are the real symptoms of PND. I have a lot of days where I’m very dark about life but then feel fine on others. Am I just having a bad day or is this part of PND? Also I would never hurt my baby.

A good way of thinking about PND is using an analogy of weather. If you feel that your mood is generally summer with a few rainy days, that’s not PND. We al have rainy days sometimes! If you feel, though, that your mood is winter all the time with only occasional sunny days, then I would be more concerned. You don’t need to have thoughts of harming your baby to have PND. I would strongly suggest you have a chat with your favourite GP or early childhood sister who are skilled in making this assessment. PND is so “fixable”!

Listening to the two mums on the show has brought back some very painful memories for me. I feel as if I missed out on a year of my children’s lives as I battled to live through the fog. I just wanted to write and encourage all women to support each other and insist that a friend seeks help if you think they need it. My best friend saved my life.

Bravo to you and your friend! To your friend for being a great friend and recognizing that you were in trouble and to you for doing the hard work required to overcome this now so common problem. That year will always be a painful memory – but you made it out and are the stronger for it, I’m sure.

Where can I go if I don’t think my doctor is taking me seriously. He keeps saying I’m just tired. Well I know that, but I also feel like there is something else that is not quite right. Perhaps if I managed to get a good night’s sleep things wouldn’t seem so bad, but I feel like I don’t love my husband anymore and he is completely unsupportive of what I’m going through. I wouldn’t describe it like the women did today, but I do feel like there is something missing. Do you think this could be depression or am I over reacting like the doctor says.

If you feel there is something wrong then there is something wrong – your instincts are very powerful. Unfortunately, there are some doctors who for all sorts of complicated reasons may not be on the ball as regards PND so I agree it’s important to seek another opinion. Is there another GP in your practice who may be more attuned to these issues (dare I say a female?). The sister at the early childhood centre (or Baby health centre in your state) is very experienced in detecting and picking up PND and will have people she can refer you to that deal with this problem every day. The Beyond Blue website also has a list of GPs who specialize in depression in your area – www.BeyondBlue.org.au. This is a very useful website.

Dr Martine Walker, I think I may have depression. I am really scared going to the GP as i think they may think badly about me. I cry most time, sleep 2hrs a night and i just can not cope. I keep keeping that this life is too hard and I don’t want to be here.Is there any advice to make it easier?

Good on you for being in contact and admitting there is a problems – this is the first step in getting better. It sounds like life is very hard for you at the moment. Your GP will not think badly of you – in fact they will appreciate your bravery in coming forward – I would! If you wanted to approach someone else, the sister at the early childhood centre (or Baby health centre in your state) is very experienced in detecting and picking up PND and will have people she can refer you to that deal with this problem every day.The Beyond Blue website also has a list of GPs who specialize in depression in your area – www.BeyondBlue.org.au. This is a very useful website.

Don’t despair – this problem WILL be fixed and you will look back on this time as a bad dream . Take the first step today!

Hi Martine. Do I have PND? I can sleep fine and love my 10 month old son very much, but I have all of the other signs mentioned in the show. My mind is always racing 100 miles per hour, can’t get anything done quick enough. Cry at the drop of a hat… I pretty much cry everyday, just watching the Mums and Bubs show! I drive everyone crazy with my germ problem. I don’t even want people touching my son, as they will give him germs, plus I wash my hands about every 10 mins or as soon as I touch something. But all in all I think I feel happy. Am I going crazy? Would love your comments.

It sounds like life is pretty tough for you at the moment! Yes, a lot of the symptoms you mention can be signs of PND. As we said in the show, often PND is a funny sort of depression where people get really agitated and worry about things they would not have worried about in the past. It sounds like your worries are having a big impact on your life and relationships. I think it is worthwhile talking to a health professional – your GP or the sister at the early childhood centre (or Baby health centre in your state) are very experienced in detecting and picking up PND and will have people they can refer you to that deal with this problem every day. The Beyond Blue website also has a list of GPs who specialize in depression in your area – www.BeyondBlue.org.au. This is a very useful website. Good luck – life is to be enjoyed. Do something about this today!

Hi Dr Walker, I was diagnosed PND nine months after having my first child and he is now fiourteen and half months. I am 36 years old and my husband would like to have another child soon but my fear is that I will not be able to cope. I am on 50mg daily of Zoloft and sometimes feel as if I am going backwards. Is the fear of not being able to cope with another baby normal. Thanks Penny

Dear Penny, Yours is a really common fear! I think I can reassure you on a couple of points.
Firstly, the fact that you have had PND in the past will mean that you and your family and health professionals will be very attuned to the possibility of it happening again – no long months wondering and suffering if it were to recur. Secondly, we have really good evidence about the safety of medications like Zoloft in pregnancy. Speak to your doctor about your concerns and about where you are at the moment with your made and make a plan? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

From watching your show this morning, it was like listening to someone telling me about everyday in my life. But, how do you cope when your husband is not supportive. We are attending counselling but it feels like I am trying 400% and he is only 10% because work is so busy. I understand I pushed him away, but I feel I had no control over what was happening. I feel so resentful that he doesnt care, that it drags me further down everyday knowing he doesnt feel the same way

This is a tough and really common problem that we as doctors see all the time. I think PND is more difficult for men than they care to admit (they’re so tough!) and I often think men can have PND – usually after their partner has started to get better. But as they are not the “patient” and don’t want to admit that anything is wrong they do what men always do – retreat to their cave and become non- communicative. Has he talked about how he felt and feels about your PND? Has he acknowledged how tough it was/is for him? Have you acknowledged that too? Has he had a chance to have a session with your counsellor alone and just for him?

Recovering from depression is a slow process – he needs to recover too. Keep with him and give yourself both time.

Good morning Dr Walker, I am a mother to a 17 month old daughter and 13 weeks pregnant with my second child. Recently I just haven’t felt myself. I thought it might just be tiredness, (as my daughters sleeping is all over the place) but after watching the Mums on today show I am worried that I might in fact be suffering from Post Natal Depression. I have suffered depression in the past, but this doesn’t feel the same. Is it possible to suffer PND so late after the birth of a child. I love my daughter, but am worried that I may not have the depth of relationship with her that I should. Thanks

You must be exhausted – 13 weeks pregnant and a 17 month old! Yes PND can occur this late and perhaps your tiredness and the anticipation of another baby has been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Can I encourage you to talk to your GP or baby health sister – if you are suffering from PND it would be great to nip it in the bud and be ready and busting to parent your soon to be 2 little babies with all the energy and fun you would hope for. PND is SO fixable.

I was diagnosed as having post natal depression approx 5 weeks ago after I lost control and hit a cupboard and nearly broke my hand. My doctor has put me on an anti depresant and I have only discussed it with my partner and his sister. My partner finds it difficult to understand – what can i do to include him more in my recovery? Nat.

Dear Nat, The best way to “let him in” is to tell him how you felt then and how you feel now – only in that way will he understand. He can’t argue with your feelings and its quite possible there are times in his life he has felt the same. It is so helpful to you if you can feel he understands and hat you are both working together.

My son is 13 months old. i adore him and being a mum. i had ups and downs but over the last couple months i find myself struggling to cope and every task for him or the housework seams like a real effort. my family are all in Germany and my husbands family keep right out of it as far as helping out is concerned. is it possible that i have pnd or am i just having a hard time? thanks in advance for your help. regards dorothy.

Dear Dorothy, Feeling that things are “not right” and having difficulty coping are very common symptoms of PND and PND is so fixable! Make a time today to discuss you feelings with your GP or baby health sister or have a look at the beyond Blue website for the names of health professional in your area who have a special interest in this area. Health professional see this this problem EVERY day – much more commonly that you could ever imagine – and will know how to help you feel a whole lot better!

For more information see Childbirth.