Today, 3rd May 2017, the world has come together to raise awareness of World Maternal Mental Health Day.

When starting a family, we’re not given a job specification or an outline of responsibilities to prepare you for this important role ahead. Being a parent can be the most important role you will ever accept. It can also be the greatest and most rewarding journeys of life, however for some parents, this change in life can be overwhelming and can cause unpredictable changes to their mental health.

It’s believed that 2 in 10 women have a mental health problem during pregnancy and in the first year following the birth, and yet over 75% of women do not get diagnosed or receive the adequate treatment and support.

Both the course of pregnancy and being a new mum can have many strains; physically, emotionally and financially – it’s understandable that your mental health is not going be at it’s strongest, but it’s important to share how you are feeling and to know that it’s best to seek support when needed.

As your hormones adjust from being pregnant to after giving birth, it’s very common to experience the ‘baby blues’; a short period of feeling low, irritable, tired, and anxious. The ‘baby blues’ can last for approximately 2 weeks after giving birth, which is different from postnatal depression.

Postnatal depression can happen gradually or all of a sudden. The depression and feeling a sense of low self-esteem can range from being relatively mild to very severe.

The NHS suggests that “postnatal depression can start any time in the first year after giving birth.

Signs that you or someone you know might be depressed include:

  • a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
  • loss of interest in the world around you and no longer enjoying things that used to give you pleasure
  • lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
  • trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
  • feeling that you’re unable to look after your baby
  • problems concentrating and making decisions
  • loss of appetite or an increased appetite (comfort eating)
  • feeling agitated, irritable or very apathetic (you “can’t be bothered”)
  • feelings of guilt, hopelessness and self-blame
  • difficulty bonding with your baby with a feeling of indifference and no sense of enjoyment in his or her company
  • frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby; these can be scary, but they’re very rarely acted upon
  • thinking about suicide and self-harm

These symptoms can affect your day-to-day life and your relationships with your baby, family and friends.

Many women don’t realise they have postnatal depression, because it can develop gradually.”

Of course, fathers and partners can also become depressed after the birth of a baby. You should also seek help if this is affecting you.

Here you can read more from the NHS about treating postnatal depression.

The reassuring news is that postnatal depression is a temporary illness and can be treated with the right support.

If you are a new parent and this is all sounding too familiar, don’t be afraid to speak out. Tell your midwife, health visitor or doctor how you feel. Seek advice and talk to a specialist.

For more information on how to treat Postnatal Depression, don’t suffer in silence – contact us today