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Women with postnatal depression suffer in silence

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Summary of story from the Telegraph, October 3, 2011

A third of women surveyed in England and Wales by the charity 4Children said they wouldn’t seek professional help for postnatal depression (PND) for fear of having their children taken away.

The report said that those who do ask for help are let down by “a wall of indifference and a lack of empathy from medical professionals with an over-reliance on antidepressants for treatment”.

Just 41 per cent of women treated are given access to therapy, with 70 per cent prescribed antidepressants.

The report said health workers must do more to diagnose it. Of the 2,000 mothers polled, a third did not identify their symptoms as PND and 60 per cent did not think their symptoms were serious enough to warrant treatment.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists estimate that 10 to 15 per cent of women suffer from PND. But the report by 4Children criticised the fact that primary care trusts and the Department of Health do not collect data on the condition.

  1. It is really disheartening to read that the reason for not asking for help is the fear that children will be taken away. There is a really damaging myth in society that child welfare services have the automatic response of removing children from the care of their mothers who because of ill health are judged and live in fear of being labelled unfit. This is simply not so, unless a child is at risk of serious harm the overall goal is to keep a family united. Intervention strategies aim to support a family not tear them apart. Research like this indicates that social myths need to be challenged in all areas – not just medical health. Child welfare (if it becomes a factor in the care of a person with depression) are just that – Welfare!!! not wolf!!!

    • vicki wharton says:

      I’m not sure that welfare services actually do take this line in my experience of them. They visited my home when they were called following my ex partner hitting me. I was told that if he hit me again, my child might be placed on the ‘at risk’ list and could end up in care. This whilst refusing to interview my partner about his violence because ‘he’d already proved that he was irresponsible by his behaviour’ and mine was deemed the same as I refused to make myself homeless and move into a hostel. I would hazard a guess that a number of women feel depressed by the sheer lack of help coming from their friends, family and partners following the birth of a new baby, the lack of information that their partners have in looking after a newly birthed woman and a tiny baby and the constant pigeon holing of exhaustion, social isolation and lack of practical support into depression. If anti depressants would get up in the middle of the night to help feed a baby or would run me a hot bath after I’d spent four hours with a colicky newborn then they might have been some good – all else felt like just turning the problem into me rather than my support network.

    • vicki wharton says:

      If anti depressants could get up in the middle of the night to feed a baby or run me a hot bath after struggling with a colicky newborn for four hours they might have done some good. There is far too much reliance on drugging the mother rather than teaching partners, friends and family that bringing up a baby takes a village, not an individual.

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