Many new mums who experience postnatal depression do not seek medical help, because they think their symptoms aren't bad enough or they fear letting loved ones down.
That's according to a survey commissioned by Mumsnet and ITV Lunchtime News, which also found that pressure to be the 'perfect' mum was a contributing factor for many mums dealing with postnatal depression.
The Daily Mailreports:
"Those who were questioned said the main reason they did not speak to a GP was because they did not believe their symptoms were bad enough to warrant getting medical help."
"A further 74 per cent were worried that having a diagnosis would raise concerns about their ability to care for their child and 72 per cent felt like they were 'letting their family down' by getting ill."
It's awful to think of a mum struggling through postnatal depression alone, but heartbreaking to think that she might do so because of the fear that asking for help amounts to letting her family down.
Nothing could be further than the truth; asking for help when you're dealing with postnatal depression is nothing short of an act of heroic bravery, and no-one whose opinion matters would see it any other way.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I've sought professional counselling in the past - but at the time I did feel like a failure for needing help - and while my situation wasn't specifically related to postnatal depression, my capacity to be a parent was definitely undermined by issues that led me to ask for help. But asking for help and facing the festering issues was indisputably the best thing I've ever done - for both myself and my family.
I know that small, accusing voice which hisses in your ear when you're dealing with or contemplating asking for help with depression. I know all the rubbish it throws at you; the fear that your family will be better off without you, that you'll never amount to anything as a parent anyway, and that getting the ball rolling by asking for help might unleash a whole set of circumstances and consequences that you don't know you can face.
But I also know that there's no relief on earth like the kind that comes when you reach out for help in dealing with depression and find it close at hand. In my case, some Cognitive Behavioural Therapy over a short period helped deal with my demons, and my family life has been all the better for it ever since. Within weeks something started lifting for me and although the process wasn't easy, I still call on the things I learned during those sessions and regularly rely on them to get me through a bad day or a difficult parenting moment.
As for symptoms not being 'bad'enough to warrant asking your GP for help, it's really true that the sooner you tackle depression, the easier it is to address. So if you think you're experiencing depression of any kind, including postnatal depression, please don't put off seeking help - that's just waiting for things to worsen, which won't solve anything. And above all, don't listen to that hissing voice - it's only telling lies.
Instead, take it from me and trust that talking to your GP or health visitor or even a friend or relative and admitting that things just don't feel quite right could be the first step towards getting your life back. It's not letting your family down to admit that you're depressed; it's the bravest and most valuable thing you can do for them - I promise.