What is postnatal depression?

What is postnatal depression?

As part of our Mother’s Day campaign to shine a light on postnatal depression, we got together with The PANDAS Foundation to ask their advice. In this article they explain what it is and how to get help.

What is postnatal depression?

Postnatal depression (PND) affects around 1 in 7 mums and 1 in 10 dads in the UK. However, the number could be far greater, as many don’t realise they have the illness or don’t seek the help they need.

There is no particular cause of PND. 

For years it was thought to be due to hormone changes both during pregnancy and the first year after birth.  For some parents, these changes can indeed be the cause.  But external circumstances can also have a huge effect on someone's mental health. Major life changes or extra stresses can trigger mental illness, and having a baby - whether it’s your first or fifth - is a huge life changing event.  Often it’s the combination of these two triggers that leads to postnatal depression.

That said, there are also certain risk factors to consider. For example, if a woman's own mother or sister suffered with PND, they run a higher risk of having PND themselves. So each case should be assessed on an individual basis.  

Perinatal mental illness – the bigger picture 

According to NICE guidelines, perinatal mental illness can be diagnosed up to a year after birth. However, at The PANDAS Foundation, we recognise that mums and dads can still be affected by their illness for years afterwards, especially if they haven't sought help.

It's not just depression either. Other pre and postnatal mental illnesses (known collectively as perinatal mental illnesses) include Pre and Postnatal Anxiety, OCD, PTSD or Birth Trauma and Postpartum Psychosis.  PANDAS has plenty of information on our website about these illnesses, including symptoms and possible treatment options.

For more information, visit our website: www.pandasfoundation.org.uk

Our helpline is ‪0843 28 98 401* and is open from 9am –8pm, 7 days a week.

*The PANDAS Helpline is for offering information, support and guidance. We are unable to diagnose a mental health illness or issue medical or legal advice.  If you have, or suspect you may have, a health problem you should consult your doctor or specialist nurse.

Calls cost 5p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge


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