If you saw “Victoria” on ITV last night, you’ll know that they began to cover the sensitive topic of postnatal depression. It’s only been in recent years that this mental health issue has been discussed more openly, but as the TV series shows, it’s a common problem that has always affected some women after giving birth.
A period of “baby-blues” is normal following giving birth, and usually has symptoms of feeling anxious, tearful, and low. For most women this will last a few days, but should have disappeared about two weeks after the birth.
However, it’s estimated that up to 1 in 10 women find their symptoms are more severe and long-lasting, and often occur up to a year after baby is born. Fathers and partners can also experience postnatal depression on occasion.
We tend to think of post-natal depression as similar to how it was depicted in “Victoria”: feeling sad and not being able to shake it, tearfulness, withdrawing and not wishing to speak to people, and struggling to bond with children, or feeling like we have nothing of worth to give to them. These are all common symptoms of postnatal mental illness, but there are others also.
Less well known is postnatal anxiety: a feeling of constantly being hyper-alert, worrying constantly about baby or other things, and sometimes frightening thoughts of hurting baby, even if this is the last thing we would do. These are all are really common symptoms of postnatal mental health illnesses also, and can be treated.
Symptoms of postnatal depression don’t always develop overnight, but if you have noticed persistent low mood for a period of weeks, if the baby is sleeping well but you’re wide awake worrying, or if friends and family have voiced concerns, it might be worth checking in with your GP or Health Visitor.
Here at Telford Wellbeing Service we will try to prioritise anyone coming through to us who is pregnant, or who has given birth in the past 12 months, as research suggests quick treatment can stop symptoms developing further. If Victoria’s story seemed familiar to you, or if you think you might have symptoms but are unsure, we will be happy to talk through treatment options with you. Anyone over 16 and registered with a Telford and Wrekin GP can call us on 01952 457415 and request an assessment. If you prefer, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org