PND: Early Diagnosis Is Key

Early diagnosis of postnatal depression (PND) is one of the most important ways of dealing with the condition, mental health charity Mind has said.

Its comments come in response to a study which found that the number of women suffering from postnatal depression could be two to three times higher than previous estimates.

A survey by Mind last year revealed similar findings; the charity put the number of mothers experiencing mental health problems before, during or shortly after pregnancy as one in six.

Emily Wooster, policy officer at Mind, said: “Depression can occur before, during or after pregnancy and an early diagnosis is key in helping women to cope with the emotional and physical demands of motherhood. Midwives are ideally placed to listen and identify where a mother might be experiencing mental health difficulties.”

She added that there needs to be extra funding and resources for perinatal services in mental health trusts.

“At the moment, fewer than half of mental health trusts have any kind of perinatal service… a survey in 2005 found that 75 per cent of trusts had no specialist mother and baby unit,” Ms Wooster said.

“If antenatal classes incorporated a session looking at mental health and reducing the issue of stigma, that might go someway to enable parents and empower mothers to come forward when they feel they might be experiencing postnatal depression…. and say when perhaps they can’t cope and need some extra support,” she concluded.