Thousands of women with postnatal depression suffering in silence
My It should be a joyous – but not an easy – experience.
And for most women, having a baby is exactly that. There are moments of fatigue and frustration in the weeks and months after giving birth, of course, but these are offset by the blossoming bond between parent and child.
However, more than 70,000 new mothers in Britain every year endure a different experience. While the world expects them to be feeling on top of the world, they are irritable, tearful, anxious and unable to enjoy anything. They may not be able to sleep or they may notice severe shifts in their appetite. They can lack motivation and concentration and be weighed down with a feeling of low self-esteem.
Postnatal depression affects up to 15 per cent of new mothers, according to official figures, but health campaigners fear the figure may be twice that because of the reluctance of many women to admit their suffering. Because of the cluster of symptoms which come with it, they may not know they are suffering.
Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) state that new mothers should receive checks from a GP or a health visitor in the weeks after the birth about their emotional state.
There are a number of ways of treating postnatal depression. For many women, the symptoms will simply pass without treatment, while others will opt for counselling or anti-depressants.
In discussions with those trying to help women cope with postnatal depression, one word keeps cropping up: ‘stigma’.
Lynne Murray, professor of psychology at the University of Reading, said: ‘Part of feeling depressed is that you feel guilty and you feel you’re a bad mother.
‘When you’ve had a baby, you probably have people coming up to you and saying, “Oh, it’s wonderful”, and expecting you to be on top of the world and functioning well.
‘If you’re not feeling great, because depression is associated with feeling guilty anyway and low self-esteem, then that coupled with people’s expectations that you should be functioning well can make you feel even worse.’
She said mothers need to feel comfortable about seeking help if they find themselves suffering from postnatal depression.
Ref: An article from the Metro, Ross McGuinness, Tuesday 12 Mar 2013
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