Antenatal & postnatal depression

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 it during pregnancy as well.
Click to the right to watch a video from Best Beginnings with Dr Alain Gregoire on depression in the antenatal & postnatal period.

What is it?

Becoming a parent brings a wide range of emotions, ranging from joy to excitement to stress and apprehension. The physical changes you go through can also affect your mood and feelings, and it's common to experience more ups and downs than usual - check out common symptoms in the bullet points below. But depression is more than just a low mood - it's a serious condition that affects your physical and mental health. Untreated, it can affect not only you but also the people around you - your loved ones and even the baby's own development. Around 10-15% of new mothers will experience postnatal depression. It can range from being relatively mild to very severe but it is also a very treatable illness if you get the right help.

We know that talking about how you are feeling can often be very difficult, however, there is help out there. You do not have to feel like this. We hear that women often worry that they will be judged or seen as 'not coping', but health professionals are aware of how common depression can be during the perinatal period, and are able to support you and your family. There will be a range of treatment options open to you - Have a look in the 'what helps' section below.

Symptoms to look for in ante and postnatal depression might include (but are not limited to):

How you might feel

  • Sad and low
  • Tearful for no apparent reason
  • Worthless
  • Hopeless about the future
  • Tired
  • Unable to cope
  • Irritable and angry
  • Guilty
  • Hostile or indifferent to your husband or partner
  • Hostile or indifferent to your baby

How you might behave

  • Lost concentration
  • Have disturbed sleep
  • Find it hard to sleep - even when you have the opportunity
  • Have a reduced appetite
  • Lack of interest in sex
  • Have thoughts about death

Note: - some of these experienced - 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 postnatal depression.

"Red Flag symptoms"

If you experience any of the following symptoms (known as "Red Flag symptoms"):

  • New thoughts of violent self-harm
  • Sudden onset or rapidly worsening symptoms
  • Persistent feelings of estrangement from your baby

Then you need urgent referral to a specialist mental health team.

What helps?

Need help right now?

Want to talk to someone?

  • Pandas (pre and postnatal depression advice and support) have a free helpline from 9am to 8pm every day available on 0808 1961 776
  • Talking therapies are available free on the NHS -here is a list of services available in Hampshire and the IOW:

- Hampshire

- North East Hampshire

- Portsmouth

- Southampton and Dorset

- Isle of Wight

Want to find support on social media, apps or online?

  • Mums Matter online information and support - includes breathing techniques and meditations.
  • Baby Buddy - an award winning app designed to look after you and your baby's physical and mental health. Click here for more information. You can download it for free online, from Google Play or the App Store.
  • Pandas offers online support and information as well as a helpline

Want to read more about it?

  • Click here for an article on postnatal depression from the Royal College of Psychiatry
  • For information and support on postnatal depression and perinatal mental health from MIND, click here.
  • Want to talk to other women and families who have been through this? Click here to visit the Hampshire Lanterns website.
  • Pandas provides support to people coping with pre and postnatal mental illness, as well as their families, friends and carers.

Medication

Medication such as antidepressants can be helpful for treating moderate to severe depression. Have a look at our page on medication by clicking here. [LINK TO NEW MEDICATION PAGE NEEDED].

Content adapted from MIND.

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