Recognising & treating postnatal depression

What are the chances that you’d find two groups that support new parents having a picnic in the same Sheffield park on the same day? Well, as it turns out, pretty high. As well as our Cheeky Monkey picnic, Graves Park recently hosted the 1st birthday party of Light, a group set up by Sheffield mums to raise awareness about postnatal depression and to help sufferers of postnatal depression.

The NCT and Light already have links; we both have user representatives on Sheffield’s Maternity Services Liaison Committee (see the last Campaign Corner), but this presented an excellent opportunity to find out more.

Louise Heard and Karen Beetham (both postnatal depression sufferers) founded Light in conjunction with the NHS Perinatal Mental Health Team, supported by NHS volunteer Savi Robinson. The Perinatal Mental Health Team only has the capacity to work with really severe cases, leaving many new mums with milder, but still distressing symptoms unsupported.

So what is postnatal depression and how do you know when you’ve got it and need to seek help? What’s known as the Baby Blues is a period of mild depression that affects the majority of women who have just given birth. But this experience of anxiety and high emotion only lasts for a few weeks. The symptoms of postnatal depression are similar, but they may not start immediately after birth and they will carry on for longer than two weeks. (Although it is possible to develop symptoms during pregnancy that continue after the birth.) The illness is common, affecting 10-15 women in every 100.

Postnatal depression has symptoms such as: persistent low mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, poor concentration, sleep disturbance, poor appetite, weight loss, feelings of worthlessness and even ideas of self harm and suicide. Sufferers may be noticeably weepy and worry constantly about their baby’s health.

If you think you are suffering from the symptoms of postnatal depression it is important that you, or your partner, talk to someone about it. Light can be contacted via email on sheffieldlight@gmail.com and are working in partnership with Sheffield based Parent Lifeline to offer telephone support Mon-Fri 9am-1pm (excluding Bank Holidays) and every evening from 7pm-11pm: 0114 272 6575. Your midwife, health visitor or GP are also able to give advice.

The Sheffield and Rotherham branch look forward to working more closely with Light in the future, as well as sharing more afternoons in the park.

You might find the following websites of interest:

Light (at the end of the tunnel): www.sheffieldlight.co.uk

Parent Lifeline: www.parentlifeline.org.uk

Sheffield Perinatal Mental Health Service: http://tinyurl.com/shefperinatal

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