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Postnatal depression

Postnatal depression (PND) is a common problem that occurs after pregnancy and affects more than 1 in 10 women within a year of giving birth. It can also affect dads and partners. PND can present itself in different ways, and many parents don’t realise they have the condition because it can develop gradually over time.

What are the symptoms?

  • Low mood and persistent sadness
  • Lack of energy 
  • Difficulty bonding with baby 
  • Overeating and under eating for comfort
  • Frightening and intrusive thoughts 
  • Lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world
  • Trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day 
  • Withdrawing from contact with other people
  • Lack of concentration and difficulty making decisions

Causes

The cause of postnatal depression isn’t completely clear but it has been associated with the following factors:

  • A history of mental health problems earlier in life or during pregnancy
  • A lack of support from close family or friends
  • A poor relationship with your partner
  • A recent stressful event, such as bereavement

Postnatal depression is different to the ‘baby blues’, which last up to two weeks after giving birth. If you continue to feel down, tearful or anxious beyond this time, you could have PND.

Treatment

A range of support and treatments are available to help people with postnatal depression. If you think you or your partner might be suffering from PND, you can speak to your GP or health visitor. 

Treatments include:

  • Talking therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) 
  • Medication, most likely to be antidepressants
  • Self-help, such as talking to your family and friends, making time for yourself to do the things you enjoy, and regular exercise
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