What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is a type of depression that many mums and dads experience after they have their baby. Unlike the ‘baby blues’ which can last for the first two weeks, postpartum depression can last longer, start later and be more severe.
Who gets postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression affects between 1 in 5 mums and 1 in 25 dads, it can also affect partners.
What are the signs and symptoms?
According to the NHS the main symptoms 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
Can postpartum depression be treated?
With the right help and support most people fully recover from postpartum depression. As with other forms of depression, it can be a lonely and worrying time but help is at hand. Contact your GP for advice if you think that you or someone you know may have depression.
How are breastfeeding and postpartum depression linked?
A study of over 10,000 women, in the UK and Spain, has shown that women who breastfeed their babies were at a “significantly lower risk” of postpartum depression. The link between breastfeeding and depression was most pronounced at 8 weeks. In Medway, only 38.1% of mums are still breastfeeding at 8 weeks. this is much lower than the UK average of 68.7%.
Where can I get support?
If you need help with breastfeeding, as many mums do, visit the Get Support page to find local groups in your area.
The Free Baby Buddy App has films which cover breastfeeding and depression, maps to help you find local support services, and lots of other features.
If you are concerned about depression, anxiety or any other mental health issues, please call your GP or contact a helpline such as mind.org.uk .