Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week: 5 myths about postnatal depression

Posted: 04/05/23

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week (1 – 7 May) is a weeklong campaign dedicated to talking about mental health problems before, during and after pregnancy.

Although most people are aware of postnatal depression, there are many misconceptions about the condition.

We’d like to use Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week as an opportunity to address these myths and start meaningful discussions around maternal mental health:

Sharon Boyd, a pathway manager at CNTW’s Neurological & Specialist Services, says:

“Welcoming a new baby is a cause for celebration but it can also be a difficult time for new mums, who might feel unable to speak out if they’re struggling due to the stigma around postnatal depression.

“To reduce the stigma, it’s important to speak openly about postnatal depression and for people to understand that it is more common than people think – around one in ten new mums will experience it.

“Postnatal depression is also a highly treatable condition, so if you’re a new mum struggling with your mental health, please reach out to your GP or health visitor so they can help you access the support you need.”

Busting 5 myths about postnatal depression

Myth: Postnatal depression and the “baby blues” are the same thing.
Although both postnatal depression and the “baby blues” occur after a baby is born, there are important differences between these two things.

The “baby blues” are a period after the baby is born when mothers may feel more emotional than usual. Up to 80% of new mothers will experience this brief form of emotional disturbance which usually fades by the time the baby is 10 days old.

Postnatal depression usually starts within six weeks of giving birth and is a lot more persistent than the baby blues. The signs and symptoms are similar to other forms of depression.

Myth: Having postnatal depression means I’m a bad parent.
Postnatal depression is a common condition, around 10% of new mothers experience it, and isn’t a sign that you aren’t a good mother. New mothers experience significant biological, physical, emotional and social changes, all of which can contribute to postnatal depression.

Myth: Crying constantly is the main sign of postnatal depression.
Crying is far from the only symptoms of postnatal depression, some people suffering from postnatal depression may even feel unable to cry.Other signs and symptoms may include feeling worthless, sad or guilty, appetite changes and losing interest in things you’d normally enjoy.

Myth: There is nothing I can do if I have postnatal depression, I just have to wait for it to go away.
Postnatal depression is highly treatable and there are many different options available, including talking therapy and medication. Contacting your GP or health visitor is a good place to start.

Myth: My baby will definitely be taken away from me if I ask for help.
Babies are only taken into care in very exceptional circumstances. Do not be afraid to reach out to your doctor or health visitor, they’re there to help give you the care you need so you can look after your baby.

How to access support

Our self help guide on postnatal depression contains more information about postnatal depression, how to look after yourself and where to get help.

People who are in distress and need urgent help can get in touch with CNTW’s Initial Response services which are open for anyone to call, 24 hours a day:

North Cumbria:
All ages – 0800 652 2865
(Text number for people who are Deaf and/or have communication difficulties – 07795 656 226)

Newcastle and Gateshead:
Adults – 0800 652 2863
Children and young people – 0800 652 2864
(Text number for people who are Deaf and/or have communication difficulties – 07919 228 548)

North Tyneside and Northumberland:
All ages – 0800 652 2861
(Text number for people who are Deaf and/or have communication difficulties – 07887 625 277)

South Tyneside and Sunderland:
Adults – 0800 652 2867
Children and young people – 0800 652 2868
(Text number for people who are Deaf and/or have communication difficulties – 07889 036 280)

If you or another person have been harmed or are at immediate risk, you may require an emergency response; contact 999 and ask for the relevant service.