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Postnatal depression

Postnatal depression is a type of depression that parents can have after having a baby.

Symptoms of postnatal depression include constant sadness, lack of energy and difficulty bonding with your baby.

Things you can do, such as resting and relaxing whenever you can, may help with postnatal depression. Some people need talking therapy or medicines.

Read more on the NHS website.

Symptoms of postnatal depression include constant sadness, lack of energy and difficulty bonding with your baby.

Symptoms of postnatal depression

Many women feel a bit down, tearful or anxious in the first week after giving birth.

This is often called the "baby blues" and is so common that it's considered normal.

The "baby blues" do not last for more than 2 weeks after giving birth. 

If your symptoms last longer or start later, you could have postnatal depression.

Postnatal depression can start any time in the first year after giving birth.

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

Many women do not realise they have postnatal depression, because it can develop gradually.

Read more on the NHS website.

Things you can do, such as resting and relaxing whenever you can, may help with postnatal depression. Some people need talking therapy or medicines.

Medical treatments

Postnatal depression can be lonely, distressing and frightening, but support and effective treatments are available.

These include:

  • self-help – things you can try yourself include talking to your family and friends about your feelings and what they can do to help, making time for yourself to do things you enjoy, resting whenever you get the chance, getting as much sleep as you can at night, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet
  • psychological therapy – a GP may be able to recommend a self-help course or may refer you for a course of therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • antidepressants – these may be recommended if your depression is more severe or other treatments have not helped; your doctor can prescribe a medicine that's safe to take while breastfeeding

Local and national organisations, such as the Association for Post Natal Illness (APNI) and Pre and Postnatal Depression Advice and Support (PANDAS), can also be useful sources of help and advice.

Self-care

Looking after a baby can be stressful and challenging for anyone, and it can be even tougher if you're dealing with postnatal depression as well.

There are a number of things you can try yourself to improve your symptoms and help you cope.

These include:

  • talking to your partner, friends and family – try to help them understand how you're feeling and what they can do to support you
  • not trying to be a "supermum" – accept help from others when it's offered and ask your loved ones if they can help look after the baby and do tasks such as housework, cooking and shopping
  • making time for yourself – try to do activities that you find relaxing and enjoyable, such as going for a walk, listening to music, reading a book or having a warm bath
  • resting when you can – although it can be difficult when you're looking after a baby, try to sleep whenever you get the chance, follow good sleeping habits and ask your partner to help with the night-time work
  • exercising regularly to boost your mood
  • eating regular, healthy meals and not going for long periods without eating
  • not drinking alcohol or taking drugs, as this can make you feel worse

Ask your health visitor about support services in your area. They may be able to put you in touch with a social worker, counsellor or local support group.

It can be reassuring to meet other women who are going through something similar.

Read more on the NHS website.