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Explains postnatal depression and other perinatal mental health issues, including possible causes, sources of treatment and support, and advice for friends and family.
Perinatal depression is depression experienced during pregnancy (known as ante or prenatal depression) or after childbirth (known as postnatal depression). Many people are aware of postnatal depression (PND) but it's less commonly known that you can experience depression during pregnancy as well.
This page covers:
Some of these experiences – like lack of concentration, disturbed sleep and lack of interest in sex – are all common after becoming a parent, but it's still important to mention them to your doctor if you're concerned you might have PND.
"I felt selfish and guilty for feeling negative and low. This made me isolate myself further and compounded the problem."
You may be offered:
If your depression is very severe, and isn't responding to other treatments, your doctor may suggest electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). As ECT can work very quickly, doctors may suggest it can help you to care for and bond with your baby as soon as possible. See our pages on ECT for more information.
"I experienced antenatal and postnatal depression three times and was given very little professional support... I now can see how invaluable peer support can be alongside professional support."
Perinatal depression usually gets better in time, although it may take up to a year. Where you feel you can, ask for and accept help from those around you. Love, practical and emotional support from family, friends and community can be vital in helping you to cope.
Living with depression can make it hard to feel motivated to do things to look after yourself – but, if you can, here are some things you can try to help yourself cope:
For more ideas, see our page on how you can look after your mental health in general when becoming a parent.
This information was published in July 2016. We will revise it in 2019.
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