35,000 Mothers in England and Wales Suffer from Postnatal Depression Annually

By @Len_IBTimes on

Tens of thousands of new mothers in England and Wales alone are quietly suffering from postnatal depression but do not seek professional help, according to a study.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 10 to 15 per cent of women suffer from postnatal depression. Symptoms can include feeling very low, struggling to look after the baby, and finding simple tasks such as showering or cooking difficult to manage, according to The Telegraph.

About 35,000 mothers every year in England and Wales struggle with depression after giving birth, but they fear that their babies will be taken away from them if they complained or sought therapy, as reported by the charity 4Children.

The charity surveyed 2,000 mothers and found that 49 per cent who had suffered postnatal depression did not seek professional help, with first-time mothers less likely than those with several children to do so.

Other mothers have also developed ''over-reliance'' on antidepressants, while some dread the stigma linked to depression that needs therapy. One third of the respondents said they were too scared to tell anyone about their depression because of fear over what might happen to themselves or their baby.

Postnatal depression usually starts within a few months from child delivery, but around one in three women experience initial symptoms during pregnancy, after which the negative emotions linger. Treatment options usually include counseling and medication, depending on the height of the situation.

The condition has been heard among celebrities, with actress Gwyneth Paltrow speaking up about her experience. Psychology experts say this depression should not be trivialized as ''baby blues.''

The report says postnatal depression is leading to relationship difficulties and breakdown, pressure on older children to look after babies, and children living with the ''long-term consequences of poor early bonding.''

Almost a third of women in the survey who had the condition were not aware they were going through prenatal depression, while 60 per cent thought they did not need professional treatment as they were not seriously depressed.

Around 70 per cent took antidepressants from their GP, while 41 per cent had access to a talking therapy.

Women also wished for more support for their partners, with 39 per cent saying the father of their baby needed to discuss his anxieties with someone, and 11 per cent wanting treatment for their partner, who they believed was also depressed.

The report also criticised primary care trusts (PCTs) and the Department of Health for not collecting data on the prevalence of postnatal depression.

Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, said: ''Postnatal depression is a problem that, with the right help early on, can be treated successfully, avoiding long-term impact on the rest of the family.

''However, many families are suffering the consequences of postnatal depression in silence, and even when they do seek help they all too often encounter a wall of indifference and a lack of empathy from medical professionals with an over-reliance on antidepressants for treatment.

''The best ways to treat maternal depression are set out clearly in guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), but all too often there is a shocking lack of awareness.

''So many women have to rely on luck to come across a sympathetic GP or health visitor who will lead them to the right course of treatment.

''This report calls for an end to the neglect of this destructive and prevalent illness to ensure that every mother is guaranteed the practical and emotional support she needs to avoid her unnecessary suffering and that of her family.''

Elizabeth Duff, senior policy adviser at the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), said: ''Postnatal depression is a complex and sadly relatively common condition which can affect anyone, and is recognised in men as well as women. Lack of support and isolation are often key causes, as parents come to terms with their new role," Duff said, adding, ''While antidepressants may help, many women benefit from counselling and other forms of support.''



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