London: Depressed Mothers ‘Suffer In Silence’ Research

3 Oct

Up to 35,000 mothers each year in England and Wales are struggling with post-natal depression and not getting the help they need, according to a charity poll.

A poll for the charity 4Children found that thousands more fail to receive prompt treatment due to “serious shortcomings” in the system for referral together with an “over-reliance” on anti-depressants and the stigma attached to talking about the condition.

Mothers With Depression 'Suffer In Silence'

A third said they were too scared to tell anyone about their depression because of fear over what might happen to themselves or their baby.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 10% to 15% of women suffer from post-natal depression.

“It’s a problem that, with the right help early on, can be treated successfully, avoiding long-term impact on the rest of the family,” said Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children.

“However, many families are suffering the consequences of post-natal depression (PND) in silence, and even when they do seek help they all too often encounter a wall of indifference and a lack of empathy from medical professionals.”

Symptoms can include feeling very low, struggling to look after the baby, and finding simple tasks such as showering or cooking difficult to manage. 

Treatment options depend on the severity of the depression, but include medication and counselling.

Charlotte Broughton was diagnosed with PND after the birth of her second child. She told Sky News that the situation left her feeling “very guilty”.

She said: “I felt like I had failed my daughter and my son and was a failure as a mother because I was not able to say ‘this is a wonderful experience’. I felt very guilty. I just could not see any way out, I felt like I had failed on many levels.

“These statistics do not surprise me at all, because people feel embarrassed and ashamed and they should not feel like that at all. You have to seek help and do it early.”

Several celebrities, including actress Gwyneth Paltrow, have spoken of their experience of the condition, which experts argue should not be dismissed as the “baby blues”.

Monday’s report says post-natal depression is leading to relationship difficulties and breakdown, pressure on older children to look after babies and children living with the “long-term consequences of poor early bonding”.

It argues that health workers, including GPs, need to do more to recognise and diagnose post-natal depression early.

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