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Maternal mental health information

Around 1 in 10 women will experience postnatal depression after having a baby. However depression and anxiety are equally as common during pregnancy. Most women recover with help from their GP, health visitor and midwife, and with support from family and friends. However severe depression requires additional help from mental health services.

The symptoms of postnatal depression are similar to those in depression at other times. These include low mood, sleep and appetite problems, poor motivation and pessimistic or negative thinking.

Two in 1000 women will experience postpartum psychosis. The symptoms of this illness can come on quite rapidly, often within the first few days or weeks after delivery, and can include high mood (mania), depression, confusion, hallucinations (odd experiences) and delusions (unusual beliefs). Admission to an MBU is advised for most women, accompanied by their baby. Women usually make a full recovery but treatment is urgently necessary if symptoms of postpartum psychosis develop.