A postnatal depression scale questionnaire carried out by 4Children in Edinburgh has revealed that up to 35,000 women each year battle postnatal depression without receiving a diagnosis or any treatment.
The survey is based upon the experiences of women, who though were not officially diagnosed with PND believe in retrospect that they might have had it.
According to the results, of the women who visited or were visited by health professionals, a huge 70% were prescribed antidepressants whilst only 41% were offered the option of talking therapies such as counselling.
Though there don’t seem to be any concrete figures that accurately suggest or estimate how many parents may be suffering, the Royal College of psychiatrists believe the figure to be approximately 10% – 15% of new mothers and 10% of new fathers.
Interestingly, the figures from the study also revealed that mothers who already had older children were more likely to pick up on their PND, potentially because after already having one child they were able to distinguish PND symptoms from the range of fluctuating emotions they experienced after their previous birth. In otherwords, they had something else to compare their experience to.
Of the women who took part in the study but said they did not seek help, almost a third of them admitted they felt anxious about what might happen to their child if they admitted they had a problem, fearing their children may be taken away from them. This provides one explanation as to why so many women who feel they may have PND turn to online support, where they are unidentifiable and where they can ask the kinds of questions they would be afraid to ask in real life.
Anyone who spends or has in the past spent time on support sites such as Netmums or Mumsnet will be aware of just how many parents feel that the NHS support and services during pregnancy, miscarriage and postnatal care are not sufficient, with a huge number of parents feeling that staff training is inadequate.
Bridget O’Connell from mental health charity Mind, commented on the 4Children report, saying that women need to feel that services are there to support them, and that one way of doing this would be to address the gaps between the published guidance and the real life experience of women.
If you believe you may be suffering from postnatal depression, your first port of call should be a visit to your GP, with whom you should discuss your symptoms so they can accurately diagnose your condition and refer you for further support.
At this point in your life you may also benefit from some additional support. A qualified counsellor provides a neutral setting in which you can outlet your feelings. If you would like to find out more about how a counsellor could help you, please visit our fact-sheet on postnatal depression.
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