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Postnatal depression: Screening and treatment

Screening 

Public health nurses will carry out a screening for postnatal depression. This generally happens at the first visit after birth. Depending on the outcome, further screening may be required. They will tell you what support is available in your area.

If you are worried about feeling depressed, you should visit your GP.

Professional support and counselling

Your GP may refer you to the Primary Care Psychology Services or Counselling in Primary Care Services (CIPC) for professional support and counselling. Your GP may prescribe medication such as an antidepressant.

If your GP feels you are more severely depressed or slow to respond to treatment, they may refer you to the local mental health service. Care and treatment by the local mental health service is usually as an out-patient.

Your care plan will be tailored to your needs. This could include input from doctors, nurses and other professionals like occupational therapists, psychologists or social workers.

Medication

Drug treatment for postnatal depression usually involves anti-depressant medication. If you use them correctly, anti-depressant medications are not addictive.

Tell your GP if you are breastfeeding. They can prescribe medication that is suitable for breastfeeding mothers.

It can take up to 2 or more weeks for you to feel that the medication is working.

If you feel you are getting better with the help of medication, talk to your GP before you change the dose or frequency.

You may need to continue taking the medication for up to 6 months after the depression has lifted.

Page last reviewed: 26/03/2018
Next review due: 26/03/2021

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