Introduction of postnatal depression
Postnatal depression is a type of depression some women experience after they have had a baby.
It usually develops in the first four to six weeks after childbirth, although in some cases it may not develop for several months.
There are many symptoms of postnatal depression, such as low mood, feeling unable to cope and difficulty sleeping, but many women are not aware they have the condition.
It’s common to experience mood changes, irritability and episodes of tearfulness after birth – the so-called baby blues. These normally clear up within a few weeks. But if a woman experiences persistent symptoms, it could well be the result of postnatal depression.
It is important for partners, family and friends to recognise signs of postnatal depression as early as possible and seek professional advice.
Read more information about the signs and symptoms of postnatal depression.
It’s very important to understand that postnatal depression is an illness. Having it does not mean you do not love or care for your baby.
Treating postnatal depression
Postnatal depression can be lonely, distressing and frightening, but there are many treatments available.
As long as postnatal depression is recognised and treated, it is a temporary condition you can recover from.
It is very important to seek treatment if you think you (or your partner) have postnatal depression.
The condition is unlikely to get better by itself quickly and it could impact on the care of the baby.
Treatment for postnatal depression includes:
Read more about the treatment of postnatal depression.
Why do I have post natal depression?
The cause of postnatal depression isn’t clear, but it’s thought to be the result of several things rather than a single cause. These may include:
- the physical and emotional stress of looking after a newborn baby
- hormonal changes that occur shortly after pregnancy; it is thought some women may be more sensitive to hormones than others
- individual social circumstances such as money worries, poor social support or relationship problems
Women might be more at risk of developing post natal depression if they:
- have a previous history of depression or other mood disorders such as bipolar disorder
- have a previous history of postnatal depression
- experience depression or anxiety during pregnancy
Read more about the causes of postnatal depression.
Who is affected
Postnatal depression is more common than many people realise and cases can often go undiagnosed.
It is estimated around one-in-seven women experience some level of depression in the first three months after giving birth.
Rates of postnatal depression are highest in teenage mothers and is thought to affect all ethnic groups equally.
- Depression is when you have feelings of extreme sadness, despair or inadequacy that last for a long time.