Postnatal depression feels incredibly lonely and scary.
Especially when you have a little baby to look after on top of that.
You have millions of questions running through your head every day.
“How does postnatal depression affect the baby?”
“Does depression impact my milk supply?”
“Will they take my baby if I admit I am depressed?”
“How does it affect others?
“How long will it last?”
You want to feel better but you are also too worried to seek help.
You are worried about what might happen when you admit how you are feeling.
Naturally, you start asking yourself: Can postnatal depression go away on its own?
The short answer is no.
However, it is more complex than that.
In this post, I share the in-depth answer to the question of whether postpartum depression can go away on its own and why.
Can postnatal depression go away on its own?
Postnatal depression (also known as postpartum depression or PND) is a disease so you need to treat it like one.
You can compare it to a physical disease like diabetes or cancer and then ask the same question: Can diabetes go away on its own?
Here is your answer.
Postnatal depression is a serious mental illness.
It is different than baby blues, which is a feeling of sadness and low mood that affects up to 80% of women after having a baby.
Postnatal depression affects 1 in 7 women in the first year of giving birth. (However, these statistics refer only to reported cases and approximately 58% of new mothers with PND do not seek medical help.)
The next question mums ask is whether they have to take medication or if they can recover without it.
This depends on how severe the depression is.
While medical treatment may not be needed in some cases, mild depression won’t necessarily go away without treatment. In fact, when left alone, mild depression can progress to severe forms.
When it comes to antidepressants, mums are often scared to go down this route due to fear of getting addicted to them.
This is a common misconception. I am not a medical doctor, but doctors generally do not consider antidepressants to be addictive in the traditional sense. (If you have concerns, always speak to your GP!)
Besides, antidepressant do not cure depression.
What they do is help you manage the symptoms and… well, to function.
Because let’s be honest, in severe cases of depression you are not even able to get out of bed.
Without medication, you are often physically not capable of taking any steps towards recovery.
Antidepressants work as a helping cane.
They are the bridge between your current state and the state of recovery.
They help you get up so that you can walk again.
Once you are able to function again, you have many options to choose from that will help you recover.
From talking therapy, alternative therapy, journalling, self-care practice, all the way to ‘simply’ talking to someone you trust. (You can find a detailed list of treatment options here).
THIS is where real recovery starts.
In my personal experience, talking to other people about my feelings, asking for help (and not refusing it when offered), and regular exercise were what eventually helped me to pull through postnatal depression.
But none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been on antidepressants first.
It was antidepressants that gave me the strength and allowed me to take the steps to heal.
I know it can feel scary to reach out for help but if you really want to be happy again, you simply can’t do it on your own.
The good news is that the list of options for help is really long so chose one you feel most comfortable with and just rip the band-aid off.
The more you hesitate the more painful it is going to be later.
Being a postnatal depression survivor myself, I know only too well how scary and overwhelming it can feel to talk to a professional.
This fear puts (quite understandably) a lot of mums off reaching out for help.
That’s why I suggest starting with smaller steps that feel achievable for you. Personally, I think the best way to start is to talk to someone you trust.
Someone who won’t judge and flood you with advice but rather listen and support you. (I offer deep insights into how to recover from depression in my book Motherhood – The Unspoken.)
Talking to someone like this often leads to other sources of help or gives you the courage to talk to a professional.
Either way, it is a great stepping stone that definitely won’t leave you at the same place you are now.
And that’s what you want, right?
Can postnatal depression go away on its own?
Here you go! I hope you find this information useful.
I would like to know – which of the recovery options resonates with you the most? Let me know in the comments!