- Tel: 020 8546 7711
Depression after having a baby can be extremely distressing. It affects around 1 in 10 women (and up to 4 in 10 teenage mothers).
Many women suffer in silence and their friends, relatives and health professionals don't always know how they're feeling.
Postnatal depression usually occurs 2 to 8 weeks after the birth, although sometimes it can happen up to a year after the baby is born.
Symptoms such as tiredness, irritability or poor appetite are normal if you've just had a baby. But these are usually mild and don't stop you leading a normal life.
If you have postnatal depression, you may feel increasingly depressed and despondent. Looking after yourself or your baby may become too much. Other signs of postnatal depression are:
If you think you have postnatal depression, don’t struggle alone. It's not a sign that you're a bad mother or are unable to cope. Postnatal depression is an illness and you need to get help, just as you would if you had the flu or a broken leg.
Talk to someone you trust, such as your partner or a friend. Or ask your health visitor to visit you. Many health visitors have been trained to recognise postnatal depression and know techniques that can help. If they can't help, they'll know someone who can.
It's also important to see your GP. If you don’t feel up to making an appointment, ask someone to do it for you.
Milder cases of postnatal depression can be treated with counselling. This can be given by the health visitor or a therapist. More severe cases often require antidepressants and you may need to see a specialist.
It's important to let your GP know if you're breastfeeding. If you need to take antidepressants, they'll prescribe a type of medication that is suitable.
Your local Children's Centre can put you in touch with your nearest postnatal group. These groups provide contact with other new mothers and encourage them to support each other. They also offer social activities and help with parenting skills.