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Good Causes

Post Natal Depression Campaign

Suffering in Silence

4Children calls for an end to the neglect of 35,000 mothers with untreated postnatal depression each year

A report from the national charity, 4Children, says a chronic lack of awareness of the symptoms of postnatal depression is leading to as many as 35,000 women suffering in silence from the condition each year with devastating effects on their families.
New figures, published today, show that a staggering half of women suffering from postnatal depression do not seek any professional treatment. Thousands more are not getting their postnatal depression treated quickly or effectively enough because of serious shortcomings in the system of screening and referral, an over-reliance on the use of antidepressants and because of a sense of stigma attached to admitting to experiencing the symptoms.

The report – the first of three looking at ways of preventing family crisis as part of the charity’s Give Me Strength campaign – highlights the terrible toll that untreated maternal depression has on families leading to relationship difficulties and breakdown, pressure on older siblings to step in to look after babies and children living with the long term consequences of poor early bonding.

The report also reveals that many healthcare professionals – including GPs – need to do more to diagnose postnatal depression early and ensure mothers are being provided with appropriate and timely treatment.

Suffering in silence
New figures in the report reveal a worrying culture of fear and lack of awareness among mothers and their partners, despite 1 in 10 women suffering from the condition. 49% of women who had

•almost a third (29%) did not realise they were suffering from postnatal depression;
•60% did not believe their symptoms were serious enough to warrant treatment;
•and – even more worrying – 33% said they were too scared to tell anyone because they were afraid of what might happen to themselves or their child.
Hunger for information
The survey exposes the real lack of information and hunger for knowledge among those suffering with postnatal depression and dissatisfied with their treatment, with:

•65% wanting more information on support groups;
•52% asking for information on counselling and other talking therapies;
•46% not satisfied with the information they received about the symptoms of postnatal depression.
Shortcomings in the NHS
Despite NICE guidelines for the effective and timely treatment of postnatal depression which stipulates that so-called ‘talking therapy’ should be offered to women with a mild or moderate diagnosis, the report shows that this is not the reality for many women:

•70% of survey respondents were prescribed antidepressants by their GP compared with 41% referred to talking therapies that are more likely to bring about long term solutions.
Research undertaken for the report reveals a worrying picture of how low postnatal depression is placed on the list of NHS priorities:

•The majority of Primary Care Trusts do not collect information on the prevalence, severity or treatment of postnatal depression at a local level (two Trusts reporting that only one woman had been diagnosed with postnatal depression within the last year).
•The Department of Health admit that they do not hold national data on the prevalence or treatment of postnatal depression.
•There is a postcode lottery for inpatient care of mothers suffering from severe depression (an under-provision of Mother and Baby Units in Cumbria, East Anglia, Devon and Cornwall and large parts of Wales and Scotland – and none at all in Northern Ireland).
Anne Longfield OBE, Chief Executive of 4Children said:
“Postnatal depression is a problem that with the right help, early on, can be treated successfully avoiding long-term impact on the rest of the family. However, many families are suffering the consequences of postnatal depression in silence, and even when they do seek help they all too often encounter a wall of indifference and a lack of empathy from medical professionals with an over reliance on antidepressants for treatment.

“The best ways to treat maternal depression are set out clearly in the NICE guidelines, but all too often there is a shocking lack of awareness. So many women have to rely on luck to come across a sympathetic GP or health visitor who will lead them to the right course of treatment. This report calls for an end to the neglect of this destructive and prevalent illness to ensure that every mother is guaranteed the practical and emotional support she needs to avoid her unnecessary suffering and that of her family.”


About mumsarcade

Mother to three children Reviewer of products that make mums' lives easier or more fun


2 thoughts on “Post Natal Depression Campaign

  1. great post! … there’s also some fantastic info about overcoming
    depression on the Feel The Magic blog (www.ifeelthemagic.com) if you’re

    Posted by Feel Magic | October 4, 2011, 11:51 am
  2. I’m really pleased to see this campaign as I don’t feel that there is enough support or information out there for sufferers of maternal depression. Mental health issues in general still come with such a stigma, making things difficult as it is for sufferers and people seeking to help them, but with the right info and support I think it would be a lot easier to minimise the impact of depression and other illnesses on people and families.

    I suffered with antenatal depression quite badly. Towards the end of my pregnancy I was quite awful, everything felt unbearable, I couldn’t cope with my older children, I didn’t know whether I was coming or going, but I dared not get help because through all that I was terrified that my children would be taken from me. I now know that’s only done as an absolute last resort, but at the time it felt like if I talked about my feelings, people would think me mad and unfit as a parent. Even with all the info in the world it’s hard to think rationally when mentally ill, so without that it’s a bit hopeless.

    I think more education for doctors and health professionals relating to mental illness would really help. The first time I suffered with depression, I finally went to the doctor after suffering for about three months, and it felt to me like the doctor wasn’t quite comfortable or sure what to do with himself, which in turn made me feel very nervous. Another time I went to see a (different) doctor, and without any real discussion, when I said I thought I may be suffering depression again, she said she would put me back on the medication I had been on previously. It was me that pointed out that I was breastfeeding and that the medication wouldn’t be suitable, at which point she told me there wasn’t much she could do. She referred me for therapy but said she doubted I would be seen as it ‘wasn’t that bad’, cue me feeling hugely embarrassed at not being taken seriously and holding back tears. Luckily I am okay now and have managed to work through my down times with the support of my partner, but when I think that there are so many women out there that have more severe depression, and who may not have partners/friends/family that can support them, that kind of attitude from a GP is unacceptable.

    I really hope that in time, the stigma around mental health dissolves and that people can seek the right help without feeling frightened or ashamed like I and so many others have.

    Posted by Curly Mum | October 4, 2011, 10:54 pm

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