Postnatal Depression and Perinatal Mental Health
Antenatal and postnatal depression and anxiety are experienced by up to twenty per cent of the population. Collectively these presentations are known as ‘perinatal mental health difficulties’ and are mental health difficulties specifically linked to becoming a parent and the parenting role. Symptoms most commonly arise anywhere between conception and when the child is 18 months of age. They may also arise when contemplating having a baby. It may be that a person has never experienced any mental health difficulties before this time or that difficulties that had previously been resolved re-appear at the time that a person is having or has had a baby.
Symptoms of perinatal mental health difficulties may include anxiety, low mood, intrusive, negative and catastrophic thoughts, rituals (e.g. cleaning to such a degree that it has an adverse effect on everyday life - or having to have things 'just so'), a prolonged feeling of failure or inadequacy as a parent and/or feeling unsupported by family/friends/colleagues etc. (perhaps causing resent). Parents may also be concerned about what their child thinks of them as a parent. These symptoms are not specific to having a first child, and symptoms may occur for the first time when having a second or subsequent baby.
Perinatal mental health difficulties are highly treatable when women (and sometimes men) receive the right evidence-based therapies to address their symptoms.