Postnatal depression is a serious yet relatively common problem. More than one in ten mothers experience symptoms within a year of having a child1. It can also affect fathers and partners, although this doesn’t happen as often.
Postnatal depression can start at any time during the first year after giving birth. Signs can include a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood, lack of interest in the wider world, lack of energy, difficulty bonding with your baby and frightening thoughts. Many mothers and parents don’t realise they have postnatal depression because it can develop gradually.
Postnatal depression can develop for a number of reasons. Sometimes it follows on from a history of mental health problems. Sometimes a lack of support from family or friends triggers the condition. It might also start because of a poor relationship with your partner. Or a continuation of the ‘baby blues’ that many mothers experience as their hormones resettle in the weeks immediately after birth.
It’s important that you get help as soon as possible if you think you may have postnatal depression, or that you encourage your partner to do so if you are concerned that they may be struggling.
Speak to your GP or health visitor, or call your Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), if your company has one, for support including self-help, therapy and anti-depressants. Remember that it’s not your fault that you feel this way and it also doesn’t mean that you are a bad parent.