Post natal depression: everything you need to know

Postnatal depression is a type of depression that many parents experience after having a baby.It’s a common problem, affecting more than 1 in every 10 women within a year of giving birth. It can also affect fathers and partners.It’s important to seek help as soon as possible if you think you might be depressed, as your symptoms could last months or get worse and have a significant impact on you, your baby and your family.

Symptoms of postnatal depression

Women feel a bit down, tearful or anxious in the first week after giving birth.This is often called the “baby blues” and is so common that it’s considered normal. Postnatal depression can start any time in the first year after giving birth.Signs that you or someone you know might be depressed include

:a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood, lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world, lack of energy and feeling tired all the time,
trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day, difficulty bonding with your baby, withdrawing from contact with other people, problems concentrating and making decisions,frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby

Many women do not realise they have postnatal depression, because it can develop gradually.

Getting help for postnatal depression

Speak to a GP or your health visitor if you think you may be depressed.Many health visitors have been trained to recognise postnatal depression and have techniques that can help.If they cannot help, they’ll know someone in your area who can.

Encourage your partner to seek help if you think they might be having problems.

Do not struggle alone hoping that the problem will go away.Remember that:a range of help and support is available, including therapy
depression is an illness like any other
it’s not your fault you’re depressed – it can happen to anyone
being depressed does not mean you’re a bad parent. it does not mean you’re going mad. your baby will not be taken away from you – babies are only taken into care in very exceptional circumstances

Treatments for postnatal depression
Postnatal depression can be lonely, distressing and frightening, but support and effective treatments are available.

These include:self-help – things you can try yourself include talking to your family and friends about your feelings and what they can do to help, making time for yourself to do things you enjoy, resting whenever you get the chance, getting as much sleep as you can at night, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet.

psychological therapy – a GP may be able to recommend a self-help course or may refer you for a course of therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
antidepressants – these may be recommended if your depression is more severe or other treatments have not helped; your doctor can prescribe a medicine that’s safe to take while breastfeeding

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