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Thousands suffer in silence from postnatal depression

3 October, 2011

Thousands suffer in silence from postnatal depression

Thousands of new mothers are suffering in silence each year because their postnatal depression goes untreated, a new report claims. Posted: 3 October 2011 by Rob Dabrowski

Thousands of new mothers are suffering in silence each year because their postnatal depression goes untreated, a new report claims.

postnatal depression

It states that 35,000 mothers a year in England and Wales are struggling with symptoms and do not get professional help.

The report, from the charity 4Children, says one in ten new mothers experience postnatal depression, but half of these do not seek professional help.

Of those who do seek help, 70% are prescribed medication by their GPs, while 41% are offered ‘talking therapies’, according to the results.

The charity's findings are based on a poll of 2000 mothers and reveal that 33% of those who suffered said they were too scared to tell anyone about their depression, due to fear about what might happen to themselves or their baby.

The new report argues that health workers, including GPs, need to do more to recognise and diagnose postnatal depression early.

Sue Macdonald, RCM education and research manager, said it is vital to prepare women and their families for the possibility of postnatal depression.

She said: ‘Talking about postnatal depression is really important because if mothers know what to look out for then when it happens they don’t see it as something abnormal.

‘The midwife is the key professional to provide this information and support during pregnancy, and during the first month after childbirth, following which the care passes to the health visitor.’

The Royal College of Psychiatrists says that 10% to 15% of women suffer from postnatal depression, which usually occurs in the first couple of months after giving birth. 

The college states that there are numerous symptoms, which may include: loss of appetite, sleeplessness and feelings of negativity, guilty and anxiety.

Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Adviser at NCT, the UK’s largest charity for parents, said: ‘Lack of support and isolation are often key causes, as parents come to terms with their new role.
 
‘We would like to see families well-supported throughout pregnancy, birth and in the early days of being a parent, with one-to-one care from a midwife who has time to get to know them and establish a relationship of trust.

‘Midwives and other health professionals should also be aware of the condition, its symptoms, and how to refer families to get support. While antidepressants may help, many women benefit from counseling.’

A Department of Health spokesman said the issue is being taken ‘very seriously’ with a focus on ‘talking therapies’ and £400m has been earmarked for treatment.


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