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Half of all women across the United Kingdom with postpartum depression do not see a healthcare professional about the problem. The charity 4Children has produced a report revealing widespread lack of awareness of postnatal depression in over 35,000 untreated mothers who suffer without treatment or with treatment that is inappropriate for their circumstance.
Shortcomings in the system include over reliance of anti-depressant medications, inadequate screening and referral . The mothers revealed they were concerned about the stigma surrounding mental illness and this prevented them from discussing their problems openly and honestly.
The “Give Me Strength” Campaign sponsored by 4Children is meant to explore how family crises can e prevented and it explains how postpartum depression can burden families, place pressure on other children to care for their new siblings, estrange parents, and undermine early bonding so crucial for subsequent care and nurturing.
The report found that 29% of the mothers did not know they had postnatal depression. Sixty percent thought their symptoms were mild and dismissed them. Up to 33% kept quiet about their fears believing there would be consequences for revealing their insecurities which would threaten their families.
“Postnatal depression is a problem that with the right help, early on, can be treated successfully avoiding long-term impact on the rest of family. However, many families are suffering the consequences of postnatal depression in silence, and even when they do seek help they all too often encounter a wall of indifference and a lack of empathy from medical professions with an over reliance on antidepressants for treatment,” concluded Anne Longfield, Chief Executive of 4Children.
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