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Antenatal and postnatal depression

Antenatal depression is when you feel low for long periods of time during your pregnancy. The condition can vary from mild to severe and can affect women in different ways.

Some women have depression after having a baby, this is called postnatal depression

Pregnancy hormones can affect your emotions, and you may also have difficulty sleeping or may be feeling sick. If symptoms like these continue for a long period, they can make you feel low.

Trust yourself. You are the best judge of whether your feelings are normal for you. Talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP if you think you have any symptoms of depression which last for more than two weeks. They are there to support you.

Depression is a mental health condition and not a sign of weakness or something that will go away on its own. Depression can be treated with the right care and support, in particular if identified early.

Signs of depression

Signs of depression include:

  • Feeling generally down most of the time
  • Can’t be bothered with things
  • Can’t concentrate or make decisions
  • Don’t enjoy life
  • Feel tearful
  • Feel irritable and don’t want to be with other people
  • Feel restless and agitated
  • Lose your self-confidence
  • Feel worthless
  • Feel guilty
  • Think about harming yourself or ending your life

You may not have all these symptoms and they may come on gradually, or you may suddenly start to feel very low.

Where to get support

Tell your midwife, health visitor or doctor how you feel. Some women feel very distressed or guilty at feeling low at a time when everyone expects them to be happy. Remember that healthcare professionals won’t judge you. They understand that depression is a mental health condition. It is not your fault, or something that you just need to ‘get over’ or ‘move on’. They will focus on helping you find the right treatment and support so that you can take care of yourself and your baby.

If you feel like you want to harm yourself or are having thoughts of suicide, it’s important to tell someone straight away. This could be a family member, friend, or your GP, midwife or health visitor.

Help is also available now if you need it: