70,000 women each year affected by postnatal depression
Thousands of women suffering from postnatal depression are "slipping through the net" and receiving no treatment for their condition, suggests new research.
A survey of more than 2,000 mothers, conducted by the parenting club Bounty for charity 4Children, found that half (49%) of the women who suffered from postnatal depression had not sought professional treatment.
It is estimated that one in ten new mothers will suffer from postnatal depression, approximately 70,000 women a year in England and Wales.
Evidence indicates that children with mothers suffering from untreated, severe or long-term postnatal depression may struggle with cognitive and language development.
Mothers who suffered from postnatal depression but did not seek professional help told Bounty that they had not realised until later that they were suffering from the condition, did not feel their condition was serious enough to warrant help or were too scared to tell anyone about their depression because of the perceived implications for themselves of their child.
National guidelines recommend that women with mild and moderate depression should be offered evidence-based psychological therapy (such as cognitive behavioural therapy) as an alternative to anti-depressants. However, 4Children is concerned that women may be being referred to this range of services, with GPs instead relying on anti-depressants.
The charity is calling for a national campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of postnatal depression, improvements in screening to identify the condition in new mothers and better access to talking therapies.