Life’s always changing, but sometimes we face a big or sudden change that is harder to deal with, whether it’s moving home, starting university, having a baby or starting to care for someone.
When things change
Even if the change is expected and positive, we can still struggle with the effects.
It helps to be aware how stressful change can be, but also be aware that the stress is unlikely to last. It’s important to take action if the effects last a long time after the change happened.
When things change, it can be helpful to understand what’s happening and how the change could be affecting us.
Pregnancy and bringing up children
A pregnancy is a huge change in our lives, especially if it’s a first baby. It can be an exciting time, but physical changes can result in poor sleep caused by discomfort, and hormonal changes can result in up-and-down moods. Read more about experiencing low mood.
Some people cope with these changes well, but others find it harder, particularly if they have to deal with morning sickness or health conditions such as diabetes.
Relationships will also be tested, particularly with a partner who may also be worried or confused.
Miscarriage or stillbirth may be a big worry for many pregnant women and those around them. If a miscarriage or stillbirth happens, it can be devastating and can be linked to symptoms of trauma.
While many people are aware you can become depressed after having a baby, it’s less well known that many women experience anxiety during and after pregnancy. In fact, it’s common to experience depression and anxiety together.
Some people may be particularly anxious about childbirth. Some people may experience postnatal depression and a small number experience postpartum psychosis.
There are lots of sources of support and information that can help if you are pregnant, have had a baby or have been through a miscarriage.
Ageing and later life
Ageing happens to us all. Later life can be full of amazing new experiences. Retirement can give you newfound freedom, and grandchildren can be a joy.
But many of us find the change hard, especially if work played a major part of our lives. Sudden loss of status and financial security, and the withdrawal from social networks and activities at work can all affect our mental wellbeing.
When children leave home, it can also be a new phase of life, but it might feel as if the house is empty. It can also put a different focus on relationships with partners or friends, and this could cause friction.
You may also find that you’re caring for an elderly, ill or disabled parent or partner.
As we age, we may find we lose our financial or physical independence. We might struggle to go out or do things alone, or may not have the money to engage in activities we once enjoyed and that connected us to other people.
Being in a care home or having a long stay in hospital can break the familiar routines of our life, causing us to feel confused and maybe even depressed.
There are also natural changes to the body that are part of the ageing process. Some of these, such as the menopause, can often result in low mood and anxiety.
It can feel like signs of depression or struggles with our mental health are an inevitable part of getting older, but they do not need to be. For example, free NHS psychological therapies (IAPT, England only) are just as effective for older adults.
There’s lots you can do to improve things, and plenty of sources of support and information that can help.