Heard it discussed but still feel in the dark? Here are the answers to the most common postnatal depression questions…
Postnatal depression (PND) is the most common perinatal mental health disorder women experience in the first year after having a baby. Between 10% and 20% of women have depression and anxiety in pregnancy and after birth. PND is an illness and will get better in time.
A good place to start is NHS Choices’ depression screening tool. Women who are concerned should make an appointment to see their GP or call 111.
Feel proud of yourself for seeking help because recognising that you’re suffering from postnatal depression is the most important step to getting better. It’s probably also the hardest step.
Yes, in a lot of ways. Like depression at other times in life, it can be mild, moderate or severe. It can come on gradually or suddenly.
The main difference though is that it can be a lot trickier to recognise. That’s because your mental state is likely to change in the weeks and months after you have a baby anyway. You will also have such a lot going on around you.
It usually comes on within six weeks of giving birth although it can emerge up to a year after your baby is born. While postnatal depression should dissipate within a few months, 30% of people with PND will still be ill after the first year.
Postnatal depression can be much tricker to recognise than other forms of depression
They can include:
A terrifying 30% of new mums with perinatal mental health problems had never talked about it to a professional.
First, this is because symptoms can be difficult to recognise when your life has just gone through such a large shift anyway. And there’s another reason: women worry that people will judge them or even that social services may take away their baby from them.
Try to remember that postnatal depression doesn’t mean you are doing anything bad. It just means that you’re suffering from an illness and deserve to get some help.
You can’t really but there are a number of risk factors. You’re more likely to get postnatal depression if you:
Speak to your GP or midwife if you think you are at risk of postnatal depression.
Yes. By speaking to your GP, midwife or health visitor and accessing the right treatment and support, you can get better. If not, it can have major consequences for your mental health, your relationship, your partner’s mental health and the development of your baby.
Treatments to try include talking therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or anti-depressants (talk to your GP for advice if you’re breastfeeding). If postnatal depression becomes severe or develops into postpartum psychosis, you might need a stay in hospital or mother and baby unit.
Yes, here are a few self-care tips:
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby: 0300 330 0700 (option 1).
You might find attending one of our Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.
Contact specialist organisations like PANDAS for more help and support with postnatal depression.