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Postnatal depression

Having a baby is usually thought of as a happy time, however as a mother, you may not necessarily feel this way.

What is postnatal depression?

10-15% of new mothers develop a much deeper and longer-term depression known as postnatal depression (PND). It usually develops within six weeks of giving birth and can come on gradually or all of a sudden. It can range to being relatively mild to severe.

The baby blues

You may go through a brief period of feeling emotional and tearful - known as the 'baby blues'. It usually starts within the first week after giving birth and affects about 85% of mothers. New fathers may also feel it. Having baby blues may be distressing, it's important to be aware that it doesn't last long, usually a few days and is generally manageable.

You may experience one or more of the following symptoms. You may not go through all of them.

How you may feel

  • Sad and low
  • Tearful for no apparent reason
  • Worthless
  • Hopeless about the future
  • Tired and lacking energy
  • Unable to cope
  • Irritable and angry
  • Hostile or indifferent to your husband or partner
  • Hostile or indifferent to your baby

If you think you have postnatal depression, don't struggle alone. It's not a sign that you are a bad mother or are unable to cope. Postnatal depression is an illness and you need to get help. So see your GP or ask someone to make an appointment for you. It is important to talk to someone about how you are feeling. If you're worried about talking to a health professional, consider asking a close friend or family member accompanying you for support.

You will know whether your feelings are normal for you.  If you don't feel right, or if you have some of the signs of depression and they last for more than two weeks, talk to your health visitor or GP. Tell your family and close friends. You may also want to consider counselling self-help or local support.

Last updated: 09/06/2024