Almost 50% of expectant mothers in the UK do not tell their midwife or another healthcare professional that they are experiencing the symptoms of antenatal depression, a survey by BabyCentre has found.
The survey of 1000 women found that the stigma attached to mental illness was preventing pregnant women from seeking treatment. Of the respondents, 44% said that they did not talk to a healthcare professional when they experienced antenatal depression because they did not want to be labeled mentally ill. ‘‘From our own research we know that midwives are often unable to provide the type of support and attention that women suffering from mental health issues require, because of a lack of services locally,’ said Janet Fyle, professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives.
Other reasons for refraining from speaking to a healthcare professional were highlighted by the survey. Of the respondents, 74% said that they felt guilty, 62% said that they were embarrassed, and 58% said that they were worried that they would be judged. ‘I would urge women who are having these feelings to discuss them with their midwife,’ Ms Fyle added. ‘They will be sympathetic, supportive and ensure that pregnant women receive the appropriate support or referral if required.’
The survey’s findings contrasted with official data on depression in pregnancy. Figures released by the government estimate that between 10% and 15% of women experience antenatal depression. However, the survey found that 30% of respondents frequently experienced five or more indicators of antenatal depression, such as feeling anxious for no reason, losing interest in day-to-day activities and feeling so unhappy they cry.