Perinatal depression can be caused by lots of different things – the stress of so much change, feeling unsupported, things not being as you expected they might be, having memories from the past stirred up, struggling with grief or conflict, financial stressors, and sleep deprivation. The symptoms of antenatal or postnatal depression are the same as depression at other times. Depression in the perinatal period may creep up on you gradually or hit you suddenly.
Some common symptoms of depression may include:
- Depressed mood, such as feeling sad, empty, or tearful
- Feeling less interest or having less pleasure in activities you normally enjoy
- Feelings of worthlessness, or blaming yourself for things not feeling right
- Feeling guilty
- Felling hopeless about the future
- Appetite or weight changes
- Difficulty sleeping, insomnia or wanting to sleep more than usual
- Trouble making decisions, or trouble thinking or concentrating
Depression in the perinatal period is treatable and, in the section, below, we outline the help and range of support that you can access.
Very occasionally, more severe depression can develop. Symptoms of particular concern are:
- Feelings of incompetence as a mother for example feeling that you are not a good enough mother or cannot parent your baby or infant
- Thoughts of wanting to harm yourself or violent or suicidal thoughts
- New feelings that you are not connected or bonded with your baby
Having thoughts of suicide or thoughts to harm your baby does not necessarily mean you will act on these thoughts. Having such thoughts does mean you need some extra support so tell a health professional who can support you and your family. If you ever feel you are at risk of acting on these thoughts or you are worried about someone, it is important you seek urgent help by phoning the 24-hour mental health helpline for your borough.
- GMMH (Manchester, Salford, Trafford, Wigan and Bolton) 0800 953 0285
- Pennine care ( Tameside, Glossop, Stockport, Oldham, Bury , Rochdale Heywood and Middleton) 0800 014 9995
If you are ever thinking you are at immediate risk or someone you know is then it is important to go straight to the nearest Accident and Emergency department, using a 999 ambulance call to get there if needed. Asking for help is a responsible thing to do and the clinician you meet will support you to find a safe way forward for you and your family.