History of mental health problems
If you have a personal history of mental health problems, this does increase your likelihood that these (or other) mental health conditions may arise again. One of the most common times that this can resurface is after having your baby.
This is why often health professionals will ask you if you have ever experienced conditions like anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions in the past, or if mental health problems may run in your family.
Of course it does not automatically mean that you will develop a mental health condition at this time – just that your risk may be higher.
Being aware and informed
It is useful therefore to prepare yourself by being aware of this and informed. One way to do this of course is by educating yourself about the different signs of and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Both of these conditions commonly arise for many women in the first 12 months after having a baby.
Also, if you have a history of of the less common mental health conditions (like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia), it is VERY important to talk to your health professional and make sure that you have access to specialist treatment to help you manage conditions such as bipolar disorder and postpartum psychosis – should the need arise.
Being aware and prepared
Often women may find it useful to reflect on other times that they may have experienced such a condition or ‘episode’, and try to remember what were some of the possible early signs that this was occurring.
By being aware of what to look and informed, this places you in the best possible position to identify if these symptoms are occurring as soon as possible during your pregnancy. Ultimately this will allow you to access safe and effective help and treatments as soon as possible.
By seeking help early, you can work with your health professional reduce your feelings of distress, so that you can be in as good a space as possible to care for and enjoy the first year of your life with your new baby.