Mothers suffer in silence with baby blues

Around 35,000 mothers in England and Wales struggle with postnatal depression every year but fail to seek help because they are too scared

Each year tens of thousands of women across Britain suffer with some form of the baby blues, but few speak out for fear of having their children taken away.

Shortcomings in the medical system and an over-reliance on anti-depressants, coupled with the stigma attached to talking about the condition, mean many more struggle with symptoms of postnatal depression but fail to seek help.

Anne Longfield, chief executive of 4Children, says: ‘Postnatal depression is a problem that, with the right help early on, can be treated successfully, avoiding long-term impact on the rest of the family.

‘However, many families are suffering the consequences of postnatal depression in silence, and even when they do seek help they often encounter a wall of indifference and a lack of empathy from medical professionals, with an over-reliance on anti-depressants for treatment.’

The report argues that health workers, including GPs, need to do more to recognise and diagnose postnatal depression early. Almost 33 per cent of women surveyed didn’t even realise their symptoms were postnatal depression.

Undiagnosed postnatal depression is causing relationship breakdowns and putting pressure on older children to look after baby siblings living with the consequences of poor early bonding.

‘This report calls for an end to the neglect of this destructive and prevalent illness to ensure that every mother is guaranteed the practical and emotional support she needs to avoid her unnecessary suffering and that of her family,’ says Ms Longfield.

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