We provide support to help families manage their mental health and wellbeing during pregnancy and after birth

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of antenatal and postnatal depression will vary and everyone’s experience is unique, however these are some of the more common ones. If you do feel you may be experiencing some of these then it is important to try and talk to someone such as your GP, Health Visitor or Midwife who will be able to offer some support. Click on bubbles for more info.

Depression

Feelings of hopelessness and sadness for no particular reason. Tiredness and loss of interest in looking after yourself. Tearfulness.

(during pregnancy and after birth)

Anxiety

A depressed mother may feel extremely anxious about a variety of subjects and situations. You may be worried about your health, possibly having felt unwell since the birth of the baby. You may experience severe pain for which the doctor can find no satisfactory explanation. This pain is often in the head or neck. Other mothers suffer backache, and chest pains which they fear are due to heart trouble. You may have a number of minor medical complaints which can cause undue distress.

Anxiety may make you worry about the health and well-being of other members of your family, especially the baby.

You may feel too tense and anxious to go out of your home. You may not be able to bear to meet up with even your closest friends, and may refuse to answer the door, telephone or letters.

Panic

You may experience confusion over everyday situations and may experience feelings of panic. These feelings are unpredictable and often very distressing. You may feel unable to ‘calm down’ and may find it hard to breathe.

 

Tension

Feelings of hopelessness and sadness for no particular reason. Tiredness and loss of interest in looking after yourself. Tearfulness.

(during pregnancy and after birth)

Obsessional & Intrusive thoughts

A mother suffering from depression commonly has some obsessional thoughts. These may be about a person, a situation or about a certain activity. You may become very frightened and believe that you may harm a member of your family, especially the baby. These fears are very common symptoms of depression and may or may not be accompanied by feelings of guilt.

 

Concentration

You will probably find that you cannot concentrate on books, television programmes or even conversation. You may find that your memory is very poor and you may often feel very disorganised. You may find that you sit for long periods of time doing nothing, but thinking about how awful you feel.

 

Sleeping

Often you will have some form of sleeping difficulty. You may be awake until the early hours of the morning, or get no sleep at all. You may sleep very fitfully and waken frequently. Indeed some mothers find insomnia one of the most distressing aspects of the illness. The feeding requirements of a young baby do not help a mother who is having sleeping difficulties.

 

Sex

A common effect of depression is a complete loss of interest in sex. This may last for some time, and it is helpful if partners realise that this is a symptom of the illness and that sexual desire will return as soon as the depression lifts. It should be stressed that a return of sexual desire is often the last sign that a depression has lifted and great patience is necessary if a relationship is to be kept intact whilst a mother recovers from postnatal depression.

 

Bonding

Some mothers with postnatal depression can find it difficult to feel a bond with their baby. It can be a real struggle to hold or even look at them

 

Post-partum psychosis

In a very tiny percentage of cases mothers may start to experience any of the following: delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing things that aren’t there), extreme mood swings (from being superwoman to feeling suicidal). Symptoms often appear within the first 14 days after birth but can appear later on. If you feel you may be experiencing any of these extreme symptoms please contact a medical professional asap. The good news is that postpartum psychosis can be treated effectively

Sex

 

If you want to hear from some parents about how they felt: See their stories

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