postpartum-depression.jpgIn some countries, postpartum depression (PPD) is under-reported and under-recognized. According to a recent report, the United Kingdom is one of those countries. Experts reveal more than 35,000 women suffer from the condition and do so in complete silence. There is no lack of medical support for mothers with PPD, but many mothers choose to live with the depression quietly; a choice that may have long-term effects on the mother and other family members. PPD is common after childbirth, but it can lead to severe depression and increased risk of suicide.

New mothers must feel comfortable reporting PPD, which is not the case in the UK. 4Children, a charity in the UK, reports that upwards of 50-percent of women suffering from PPD never report the symptoms. There is a stigma that surrounds PPD and other forms of mental illness and women would rather suffer in silence than report the problem. In an attempt to solve the problem, 4Children started the “Give Me Strength” campaign. The aim of the campaign is to educate new mothers on the symptoms of PPD and the possible treatment options. Women are also educated on the effects of PPD on children, family members and life as a whole. The more women know about PPD, the greater chance they will report the condition.

Why are women in the UK not reporting depression, other than stigma?
According to 4Children, many women have no idea they are suffering from PPD. Some women know they have the condition, but don’t think the symptoms are bad enough to report and others are simply afraid of the consequences of reporting depression.

Getting women to report symptoms is just the first step, according to 4Children. General practitioners need to work harder to recognize symptoms and treat symptoms effectively. About 70-percent of women in the UK suffering from PPD are prescribed anti-depressants. While medications can provide short-term relief, women need verbal counseling to come to terms with their feelings and heal completely so they can eventually live without anti-depressant medications.

PPD interferes with the mother-baby bond and may have long-term effects on parenting as a whole. Women need to feel comfortable reporting symptoms and they need to be reassured that no ill effects will result if these symptoms are reported.

Source: 4Children: Give Me Strength Campaign. October, 2011.