Depression rates up as mothers feel under pressure

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New mothers feel under pressure to get everything right which is contributing to rates of depression while midwives admit to being too busy, a new report has found.

A range of worries – including over money and getting practical help with childcare – cause women to feel very low, according to a poll of 1,500 women who suffered from depression either in pregnancy or after birth.

Concerns over work and money made 12 per cent feel they could not cope, while 22 per cent felt pressure to “do things right” and 21 per cent suffered due to a lack of practical and emotional support. This compared with 12 per cent who felt their mental health had been impacted by their hormones and 15 per cent who believed they had a pre-disposition to depression. As a result of their illness, 43 per cent of mothers did not want to leave the house, 22 per cent had suicidal thoughts and 30 per cent said symptoms lasted more than 18 months.

The poll, from organisations including Netmums, the baby charity Tommy’s and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), forms part of a report into mental health among pregnant women and those who have given birth.

It found three-quarters did not feel they could tell a health worker about their depression and 40 per cent did not receive any treatment.

Some 34 per cent did not disclose for fear that they would have their baby taken away from them and a further 31 per cent were put off because they saw different midwifes or health visitors at their appointments.

The report also surveyed 2,000 health professionals. It found fewer than half (46 per cent) of community midwives saw the same woman throughout her care and 44 per cent said there was not enough time to discuss mental health in appointments.

Their concerns were echoed by health visitors, with only 43 per cent seeing the same woman throughout her care.

Sally Russell, co-founder of Netmums, said: “It’s clear to see that as society changes with longer working hours, fewer families living close together and the relentless media pressure for new mums to look, act and feel perfect, that there is a real danger incidences of this illness could be on the increase.”