Will my baby be affected if I experience depression during pregnancy or after birth?
If you experience depression while pregnant, the main effects on the baby will be due to any medication you are taking to ease your symptoms or any behaviours you’re engaging in/or not engaging due to your psychological problem. What I mean by this is if you’re not taking care of yourself or using drugs or alcohol.
Again, immediately after birth, medication may have an impact on your baby and there is some evidence to suggest that early bonding and some cognitive developmental problems may occur.
For these reasons it’s important to get professional advice and support if you experience mood problems, and to check any medication you’re taking with your GP.
Are antidepressants safe for breastfed babies?
Some antidepressants are safe for breastfeeding mothers and their babies, but it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional. The decision to take medication should be made with careful consideration of potential benefits and side effects.
Bear in mind that all antidepressants take time to work. If you do take them, they can be very effective, but you should be prepared to take them for at least six months. They also all have possible side effects, and when you stop taking them you should withdraw slowly, to avoid possible withdrawal effects which can be unpleasant.
Can postnatal depression be prevented or treated before it becomes severe?
While it's challenging to prevent postnatal depression entirely, NICE2 suggest that early screening and assessment during pregnancy and after birth can help identify risk factors and provide preventative treatment when necessary.
If the necessary screening and assessments are carried out it is possible to influence the possibility of symptoms occurring, but not to wipe it out completely. Things can happen during the birthing process or after the birth, which may affect an individual's mood and ability to cope, but that couldn’t have been predicted.
What is puerperal psychosis?
Puerperal psychosis, also known as post-partum psychosis (PPP), is a rare but severe mental illness that can develop suddenly in the days or weeks after giving birth. Symptoms can include high mood, depression, confusion, hallucinations, and delusions. It is a psychiatric emergency, and immediate professional help is essential. This can happen to any woman. It often occurs ‘out of the blue’ to women who have not been ill before. It can be a frightening experience for women, their partners, friends and family. Women usually recover fully after an episode.
In conclusion, postnatal depression is a complex condition that can affect both mothers and fathers. It's crucial to be informed and seek support when needed. The answers to these frequently asked questions provide insights into understanding, managing, and addressing postnatal depression.