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Postnatal, or postpartum, depression is a type of depression experienced by women after they've had a baby. It can develop at any time, but most commonly in first four weeks after childbirth. Postnatal depression is believed to affect 10% of mothers in the UK, although the figure could be much higher as many cases remain unreported.

The main symptoms of postpartum depression are low mood and a feeling of being unable to cope. It causes feelings of guilt, loneliness, and a general sense of being overwhelmed.

Other common symptoms of the condition include tearfulness, irritability, and a lack of interest in yourself and your new baby. The depression can also lead to panic attacks or severe anxiety.

Some cases of postnatal depression can give rise to thoughts about harming your baby. This is surprisingly common, affecting up to 50% of women with the condition. You may also experience thoughts about harming, or even, killing yourself.

The important thing to understand about postnatal depression is that it doesn't make you a bad mother. The condition is believed to occur due to chemical and hormonal imbalances in the body which are beyond your control. There is nothing at all to feel guilty or ashamed about.

Postnatal depression can be treated in a verity of ways including many forms of medication and therapy. A combination of methods will often prove most effective.

Antidepressants are the most common form of medication used in the treatment of postpartum depression. Approximately 60% of women with moderate to severe depression improve within a few weeks of starting treatment with antidepressants.

In severe cases of postnatal depression, such as those with an element of psychosis, tranquillizers may be prescribed. These can help alleviate symptoms such as hallucinations, irrational behaviour, and potentially dangerous thoughts.

In term of therapy, cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are the two most common forms of treatment. Both types of therapy target negative and unhealthy thought process, but cognitive behavioral therapy also helps you adopt more healthy behaviour.

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