A survey carried out by The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) has revealed that nearly half of new mothers who are suffering with mental health problems aren’t being diagnosed or treated for their conditions.
Half of those who were questioned by the charity said that they had experienced mental health problems at some point during their pregnancy or within the first year of becoming a mum. Despite this, 42% said their conditions were never diagnosed.
More than a fifth of the women who were surveyed said that when they had their six-week check, they weren’t asked about their emotional wellbeing and 20% said that they didn’t feel like they could disclose their issues.
When questioned about why this is, some stated that they didn’t feel comfortable doing so, a quarter said that there simply wasn’t time to go into it and almost half were worried about being perceived as unfit to look after their baby.
Following the results of the survey, NCT is now calling for better mental health training as well as increased funding for six-week checks so that more time can be spent with each new mother.
What causes postnatal depression?
Although experts can’t identify one single reason why some women experience postnatal depression and others don’t, it’s thought that there are a number of different factors which may contribute towards how likely we are to suffer from it:
- Suffering from a mental illness such as depression prior to falling pregnant
- Experiencing depression or anxiety while pregnant
- Lacking support from friends and family
- Feeling traumatised from a stressful event such as losing your job, someone close to you dying or a relationship coming to an end
Spotting the signs of postnatal depression
Postnatal depression is often missed, misdiagnosed or women are too scared to talk to their GP about how they’re feeling. It is very important to seek help if you have the following symptoms and think you may be suffering from the condition:
- Feeling depressed – you may feel low, unhappy or tearful on a regular basis.
- Being irritable – you may get angry or feel irritated by the smallest things, including the people around you.
- Tired – beyond the usual level of fatigue, feeling exhausted and lacking energy
- Not being able to sleep – despite feeling tired, you might suffer from insomnia and lie awake worrying.
- Changes in appetite – if you have completely lost your appetite or find yourself comfort eating, this could be a sign that something isn’t right.
- Lack of enjoyment –you may find that you’re no longer interested in the things you used to love doing and you may not even enjoy being around your baby.
- You’re experiencing negative and guilty thoughts – thinking you’re not a good mother and that your baby doesn’t love you.
- Feeling anxious – it’s natural for new parents to worry about the health of their baby but with postnatal depression, this anxiety can be overwhelming. This leads to fears your baby is at risk, either from illness or from yourself.
- Avoiding other people – avoiding seeing friends and family because you’re feeling low, overwhelmed or guilty about your feelings.
If you think that you or someone you know may be suffering with postnatal depression or you would like more information about the condition, please feel free to visit our Knowledge Centre. Alternatively, you can also contact us in the strictest of confidence if you would like more information about the signs, symptoms and treatments that are available.