Dec 2012

Post Natal Depression support

For around 15-20% of mums, postnatal depression can be a frightening, confusing and isolating illness. We caught up with The Cedar House Support Group, a charity helping women experiencing postnatal depression (PND). They are about to bring a new support group to Nappy Valley, starting on Friday 11 January at the Weir Link in Balham/Clapham.

I spoke to them about the illness and where families can find help.

What is postnatal depression?
Postnatal Depression is an illness that affects between around 15 in every 100 women having a baby.

PND can happen to anyone and it is not your fault. Mums experiencing PND do get better. It is recommended as a first instance to talk to your health visitor and/or GP if you are feeling unwell.

When does PND happen?
PND often starts within one or two months of giving birth. It can also start several months after having a baby. About a third of women with PND have symptoms, which started in pregnancy and continue after birth.

What does it feel like to have PND?
• Depressed
You feel low, unhappy and tearful for much or all of the time.

• Irritable
You may get irritable or angry with your partner, baby or other children.

• Tired
Depression can make you feel utterly exhausted and lacking in energy.

• Sleepless
Even though you are tired, you can't fall asleep. You may lie awake worrying about things. You wake during the night even when your baby is asleep. You may wake very early.

• Appetite changes
You may lose your appetite and forget to eat. Some women eat for comfort and then feel bad about gaining weight.

• Lack of enjoyment

You find that you can't enjoy or be interested in anything.
You may find it difficult to concentrate on TV or reading a book.

• Negative and guilty thoughts
Depression changes your thinking, you may be experiencing negative or even scary thoughts. This is all part of the illness.

If you have thoughts about harming yourself, you should ask your doctor for help. If you have a strong urge to harm yourself, seek immediate help from the medical profession. E.g. A&E

• Anxious
Most new mothers worry about their babies' health. If you have PND, the anxiety can be overwhelming.

Social withdrawal

• You may not want to see friends and family.

• You may feel that things will never get better. You may think that life is not worth living.

PND is a treatable illness and it is important not to experience this on your own. You must seek help.
We have seen hundreds of women over the years with severe to mild depression and they do get better.
Our support groups provide a safe and confidential environment where mothers can share their thoughts and feelings with others who may be experiencing similar symptoms. It can be a terribly isolating illness and to know others are feeling similar to you, often really helps the road to recovery.

For further information on the Cedar House Support Group, please contact our counsellor: Liz Wise,

• Talk to your family, partner or friends for support. Most people know someone statistically who’s had the illness. You are not alone.
• Contact your health visitor or GP
• The Association for Postnatal Illness www.
The Cedar House Support Group