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For administration issues only please use the email below to contact the practice manager.
Please do not use this email address for clinical issues, request prescriptions, appointments, medical certificates etc
Tel: 01702 582670
The Thorpe Bay Surgery
99 Tyrone Road
Southend on Sea
Post Natal Depression
Having a baby can be an emotional and stressful time. After the baby is born, many mothers feel tearful and depressed. This is called postnatal depression (PND) and it affects around one in ten women in the UK. PND can last for anything from a few days to few months. PND is generally divided into three main types:
- 'Baby blues': This is the most common type of depression. It doesn't last very long, starting around the third day after birth and going by around the tenth day. Mothers may feel tearful and irritable, but no medical treatment is needed.
- Postnatal depression: If the low feelings that many women feel straight after birth don't clear up, postnatal depression can develop. Women with postnatal depression feel depressed for much of the time, with little sign of it going away. PND can usually be noticed in the first 4-6 weeks after birth, although in some cases, it can take several months to develop. It usually needs to be treated.
- Postnatal psychosis: This is a rare, but severe, form of depression. It develops in about 1 in 1000 mothers. Some of the symptoms are irrational behaviour, confusion and suicidal thoughts. Women with postnatal psychosis often need specialist psychiatric treatment.
Although postnatal depression is more common in women, men can be affected too. The birth of a new baby can be a stressful time for both parents. Some fathers feel unable to cope or feel that they aren't giving the mother all the support she needs. Fathers can also find it upsetting if the new baby is getting all their partner's attention.
Postnatal depression in both men and women can put strain on the parents' relationship. This can cause the break up of some relationships, which is why it is important to recognise the symptoms early and get treatment.
Postnatal depression affects different women in different ways. Many mothers don't recognise that they have PND and don't talk to family and friends about how they are feeling.
The symptoms of PND are similar to depression that occurs at other times and for other reasons. They usually include one or more of the following:
- constant tiredness or exhaustion,
- sleeping problems,
- lack of appetite,
- lack of interest in the new baby,
- lack of motivation,
- panic attacks,
- difficulty concentrating,
- feeling lonely,
- sense of feeling overwhelmed,
- loss of sex drive,
- feeling guilty and unable to cope, and
- physical signs of tension, such as headaches, stomach pains or blurred vision.
PND can interfere with your day-to-day life. Some women feel unable to look after their baby, and others feel too anxious to leave the house or keep in touch with friends. It is important to remember, however, that symptoms such as lack of appetite and low sex drive are normal after childbirth and don't always mean you are depressed.
Some women get thoughts about harming their baby. This is quite common and affects around half the women with postnatal depression. You may also have thoughts about harming or killing yourself. Thoughts like these do not mean you are a bad or unfit mother, and it is very rare for either mother or baby to be harmed. However, it is very important to see your GP if you have these or any other symptoms of PND. Treatment will benefit both your health, the healthy development of your baby, and your relationship with you partner, family and friends.
A study carried out into postnatal depression showed that only 1 in 4 women sought any help. As a result of this, many GPs now use a short questionnaire to help diagnose postnatal depression. This is called the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and has 10 simple questions. Recently, some doctors have been using this scale during the pregnancy to try and find women who are more likely to become depressed after the birth. You can complete this form online by following this link Edinburgh Post-Natal Depression Scale .