It is important for a mother with PND to see her GP. For some women, just the consultation, and the acknowledgement
between the GP and the woman that there is a depressive illness, possibly mild, is enough and she may not require any other treatment. However the GP may suggest anti-depressants which can be extremely useful in aiding the mother’s recovery. Some women may be anxious about taking medication whilst breast feeding; but there are some anti-depressants that are fine to take. It is important to discuss this with your GP.
The GP may suggest counselling for the mother or a referral to the Community Mental Health team who may have expertise in this area. Postnatal Depression support groups can also be extremely helpful for her as she will be with other mothers who are experiencing similar feelings. This will help to reduce her sense of isolation and to normalise her feelings for her.
Whatever treatment and or support a mother receives, it is important to remember that her recovery will be gradual with more bad days than good to begin with. As she recovers her bad days will decrease, good days increase and eventually she will feel like her old self again.
The health visitor can be extremely helpful, sometimes by using a tool known as the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) or a mood assessment scale. The EPDS is a self report questionnaire that the mother fills in on her own with the health visitor present, and consists of ten short statements about how she has been feeling in the last seven days. It is usually used between six and eight weeks after delivery and gives her an opportunity to talk about her feelings. Some mothers may feel assessed or judged by this tool, it should not be seen as threatening but as helpful in identifying how she is feeling. Health visitors can offer support to mothers, by visiting them in their own home on a regular basis, allowing them to talk about their feelings.
Sometimes mothers may not feel easy talking to health professionals about their negative feelings and thoughts, and sadly some women may have the idea that their child might be taken away from them if they do share these. This is not the case, health professionals are here to help.