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Postnatal depression

Having a baby can be a joyful but stressful time. It is quite common for new mothers to go through a brief period of low mood in the initial days following the birth. This is known as the baby blues and is considered relatively normal as around 85% of mothers are affected by it.

Post Natal Depression is different as it is a much deeper and longer term depression. Some of the symptoms can include:

  • A persistent low mood
  • Lack of interest in yourself or your baby
  • Feelings of guilt, rejection and worthlessness
  • Tearfulness
  • Little or no motivation to do things
  • Not feeling able to cope
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Feeling hostile towards your partner or baby.

In rare cases some women with post-natal depression may experience thoughts of wanting to harm themselves or their baby. If this occurs professional help should always be sought from your GP or Health Visitor to help keep everyone safe.

Who gets it?

Post Natal depression occurs in around 1 in 10 mothers and usually develops around 4-6 weeks after the birth.

Women can be more vulnerable to developing post natal depression if they;

  • have had a previous experience of depression or another mental health issue
  • have little or no social support to help them cope
  • have a history of abuse or early traumatic experiences
  • have financial or relationship difficulties
  • have physical health problems following the birth
  • have low self esteem
  • have been experiencing stressful life events

It can be quite normal for women to feel tired and irritable when a new baby has been born and so post natal depression may be difficult to spot initially, however one identifier may be if you are unable to sleep even when tired and have the opportunity to do so.

What can I do if I think I have Post Natal Depression?

If you suspect that you could have post natal depression it is important to tell somebody so that you can find support. Telling somebody can help you to receive support as early as possible, which will give a greater chance of recovery. It can also mean that other people can support you to cope when you are finding things very difficult.

You could talk about your concerns with your health visitor, your partner, a friend or family member or your GP. The type of treatment offered for somebody experiencing post natal depression will vary from individual to individual. You can discuss this with your GP to help find the best option for you.

How can I support someone else who has post natal depression?

If somebody you love is experiencing post natal depression it is likely they feel very frightened and confused about what is happening. Support from family and friends can be really helpful during this time.

One thing you could do to help the person is to offer to go with them to their doctors appointments. Some people find this helps them to feel less alone and comforted knowing that there is somebody there with them.

Family and friends can also help in practical ways:

  • Being there so that she is not alone
  • Helping with doing the shopping or other household tasks
  • Cooking a healthy meal
  • Offering to look after the baby so that she can attend any appointments
  • Giving her some time out to get some sleep or relax by taking care of the baby for a few hours
  • Asking her what you can do to help

Find out more from in this booklet by the NHS.  You can also find out more information and access support from the source shown below.

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