It is believed 1 in 7 new mums will experience some form of perinatal mental illness. Its important to know the signs and symptoms of postnatal depression, the sooner you get help the sooner you can start to get better, and you WILL get better.

These are the symptoms as described by the NCT charity :

  • Feeling very low, or despondent, that life is a long, grey tunnel, and that there is no hope. Feeling tired and very lethargic, or even quite numb. Not wanting to do anything or take an interest in the outside world.
  • Feeling a sense of inadequacy or unable to cope.
  • Feeling guilty about not coping or not loving their baby enough.
  • Being unusually irritable, which makes the guilt worse.
  • Wanting to cry/cry a lot or even constantly.
  • Having obsessive and irrational thoughts which can be very scary.
  • Loss of appetite which may go with feeling hungry all the time but being unable to eat.
  • Comfort eating.
  • Having difficulty sleeping: either not getting to sleep, waking early or having vivid nightmares.
  • Being hostile or indifferent to their partner and/or baby.
  • Having panic attacks, which struck at any time, causing rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms and feelings of sickness and faintness.
  • Having an overpowering anxiety, often about things that wouldn't normally bother them, such as being alone in the house.
  • Having difficulty in concentrating or making decisions.
  • Experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches.
  • Having obsessive fears about baby's health or wellbeing, or about themselves and other members of the family.
  • Having disturbing thoughts about harming themselves or their baby.
  • Having thoughts about death and/or suicide.

You can visit the NCT website for more information 

There are other forms of perinatal mental illness which women can experience. These are just a few but if you feel you are struggling it is important to speak to your health care provider. 

Antenatal Depression - This is becoming more recognised now, pregnancy isn't always the happiest time of some mums lives, don't feel ashamed, speak to your midwife about how you feel, she will be able to help.

Perinatal OCD - Another condition which has been receiving more attention, and again is more common than people realise. While most parents will worry about their baby, this condition causes parents to feel an intense and very real fear that their baby will come to significant harm, caused by accident, illness or by deliberate means. This can cause intrusive thoughts (obsession) which leads to the mother becoming anxious, and having repeated thoughts or actions that they believe will 'protect' the baby or reduce the anxiety. This is a treatable condition often CBT and sometimes medication are helpful. Visit the Maternal OCD website for more information.      

Postpartum Psychosis - This is a rare, severe butt treatable mental illness which can affect women after childbirth. It can happen anywhere between a few days to a few weeks after childbirth and women can become very ill, very quick. It is important to treat this as an emergency and ensure women receive help quickly. To find out more information visit the Action on Postpartum Psychosis website. 

If you think you could be experiencing postnatal depression or other perinatal illness, its important that you reach out for help. Speaking to a loved one will help give you support but its vital you speak to your health care professional too. Take along someone you trust for support, and be honest about your feelings. They may be able to refer you for counselling, talking therapies or prescribe medication if its what you and your doctor feel is best. They may also have information about local services which can help you.

You can see your GP, speak to your health visitor, midwife or reach out to the local children centre.

It can be a difficult thing to talk about but the stigma attached to mental illness is disappearing and the condition is widely recognised. 1 in 7 mums will experience some form of postnatal depression, so you aren't alone. Most importantly remember it is something which you can recover from. 

What Is Postnatal Depression?

Other Types Of Perinatal Mental Illness

Who Should I Contact For Help?