Leaving PND untreated can be harmful as it can affect all your relationships – in particular, how you bond with your baby. The first step to getting better is to talk about how you’re feeling.
You’re not alone
Some mums with PND try to hide it because they think they should be coping and worry about admitting that they’re finding it tough. You might also worry that your baby will be taken away from you. That won’t happen. In fact, every effort is made to keep mum and baby together. There are a number of ways in which you’ll both be helped and supported.
Talk about it
Talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP (you may want to talk to your partner, friend or a member of your family first). They all have a wealth of experience in helping new mums with PND and the earlier you open up to them, the sooner you’ll be on the road to recovery. You might also like to read more about PND in NHS Health Scotland's talking about post natal depression leaflet.
Counselling and psychotherapy
For most women with PND, the best treatment is counselling and support. This begins with your health visitor, who can listen to you, and discuss your feelings with you. This may be enough, or you may decide together that more in-depth counselling or therapy is required. If so, that will be arranged for you.
Many women find that self help groups, which offer support and counselling with input from an experienced counsellor, are a great help. You can share your feelings with other mums who are dealing with PND, or who have gone through it in the past.
Finding out that you are not alone and realising that other people know how you are feeling is often the first step to getting better. Your health visitor or will be able to put you in touch with a local group or service.
Although most mums with PND will not need anti-depressants, you and your GP may decide that this is the best course of action for you. It may go hand-in-hand with counselling.
If you are breastfeeding, your GP will prescribe a drug which will not affect your baby. Anti-depressants may be prescribed for up to a year, and although this seems like a long time, it’s important that you don’t stop taking them, without consulting your GP, even if you start to feel better.
These drugs can take two to four weeks before they begin to take effect and they need to be taken for up to six months after you’ve started to feel better. This can help to prevent your depression from recurring.