Postnatal depression (PND) is a type of depression some women experience after they have had a baby. It usually develops in the first four to six weeks after childbirth, although in some cases it may not develop for several months. There is often no reason for the depression.
There are many symptoms of PND, such as low mood, feeling unable to cope and difficulty sleeping, but many women are not aware that they have the condition. It is important for partners, family, friends and healthcare professionals to recognise the signs of PND as early as possible so that appropriate treatment can be given.
It is very important to understand that having PND does not mean you do not love or care for your baby.
Who is affected
PND affects about one in 10 mothers in the UK. If you feel depressed most of the time and the feelings do not go away, you may have PND. Your GP will be able to determine whether you have the condition and suggest an appropriate course of treatment.
Also, although postnatal depression is more common in women, men can be affected too. The birth of a new baby can be stressful for both parents and some fathers feel unable to cope, or feel they are not giving their partner the support she needs. They can also find it difficult to adjust to the big changes and demands made by a new baby.
PND can be lonely, distressing and frightening, but you should be reassured that there are many treatments available. As long as PND is recognised and treated, it is a temporary condition that you can recover from.