Postnatal depression is a specific form of depression experienced by parents after the birth of a new baby.
More than one in ten women experience postnatal depression within a year of giving birth and it can also affect fathers and partners.
It's normal for parents to feel anxious or down in the days after giving birth.
But if you're a new parent who is still feeling low two weeks afterwards, you should reach out for help immediately as postnatal depression can have serious and lasting effects on both you and your baby.
It's important to realise being depressed does not make you a bad parent and it does not mean your baby will be taken away from you.
You may not immediately realise you have postnatal depression, as the effects can appear gradually over time.
It's a condition that can develop up to a year after the birth of a baby.
However, the symptoms can be very serious and may include any combination of the following:
- You're finding it difficult to bond with your newborn
- You regularly feel down, upset, empty or numb
- You’re often restless and agitated
- You feel extremely tired, and have unexplained aches and pains
- You take longer to get to sleep and wake up not feeling refreshed
- You have difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- You have thought about harming your baby
It's extremely important to reach out for help if you're feeling any or all of the above.
Your GP, midwife or health visitor can refer you to psychological therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This can change our thoughts and behaviours to make us feel differently about situations.
It's also useful to take useful steps yourself, if possible. Self-help options can include talking to your family and friends about how you're feeling, eating a healthy diet and making sure you're adequately rested.
In more severe depression, it might be necessary to use medication to allow you to lead as normal a life as possible. You may be described antidepressants such as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). You can see a list of medicines we might offer you on our Choice and Medication portal.
If you’re in a mental health crisis and need urgent help, call the Single Point of Access on (01472) 256256 and select option 3. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Alternatively, you can call NHS 111 free from a landline or mobile phone.
If you think you may be experiencing postnatal depression, speak to your GP or midwife. They will be able to offer support and signpost you to an appropriate service (for example, Open Minds for psychological support).
Every Mum Matters: A campaign to support new and expectant mums and their families to be able to recognise symptoms of perinatal mental health problems early and encourage them to seek help promptly.
NHS mood self-assessment: This short questionnaire will help you understand how you’re feeling and signpost you to the most appropriate support.
Orcha Apps Library: This library lists thousands of NHS-approved health apps by condition, making it quick and easy for you to find support.
Every Mind Matters: This Public Health England campaign shares hints and tips developed with experts and approved by the NHS.
APNI: The Association for Post Natal Illness provides support for women experiencing postnatal depression.
The Miscarriage Association: Information for anyone affected by miscarriage, molar pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy.
SANDS: Sands is the leading stillbirth and neonatal death charity in the UK
Child Bereavement UK: An organisation who can support when a baby or child of any age is dying.
NHS mental wellbeing audio guides: The NHS have put together a series of audio guides to help you cope with low mood and depression.