Learn how to beat the baby blues; TELEVISION PRESENTER MELINDA SIGNS UP TO FRONT A SCOTLAND-WIDE CAMPAIGN TO HELP NEW MUMS WHO SUFFER FROM POST-NATAL DEPRESSION.
IT'S called the smiling depression but it drove Melinda Messenger to the brink of suicide.
That's why the 34-year-old television presenter has signed up as the face of a new Scotland-wide campaign to reach out to baby blues mums.
Melinda reached rock bottom after her daughter Evie, now two, was born. Today fully recovered she recalls vividly how devastating this often hidden illness can be.
She said: "I felt suicidal. I couldn't stop crying - at playgroup, in the car, at home.
"I remember thinking, 'Wouldn't it be great if the car crashed and I died?' I could never have done that to my kids but I just wanted the pain to end."
Latest research shows post-natal depression affects at least one in 10 new mums. What should be one of the happiest times of their lives is instead filled by desperate feelings of anxiety and deep sadness which affect the whole family.
Now a fund-raising evening is being held in Edinburgh on Friday to launch Bluebell Day, a post-natal awareness campaign.
Here's our guide to how to spot the symptoms and how to battle your way back to health.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Warning signs include tearfulness, despair, lack of energy, changes in appetite, anxiety and difficulty bonding with the baby. Some women struggle to sleep even though they feel exhausted.
In extreme cases sufferers attempt suicide or harm their baby. About four out of 1000 new mums have to be treated in hospital for the illness.
Up to 50 women a year commit suicide before their child's first birthday as a result of post-natal depression or other psychiatric disorders.
WHY IS IT CALLED THE SMILING DEPRESSION?
Viv Dickenson of the Edinburgh based Post-natal Depression Project says: "It is sometimes called the smiling depression because the feelings are so difficult to share.
"It leaves mothers feeling guilty and isolated in the belief everybody else is coping well.
"Despite the fact this is an illness which responds well to appropriate treatment, the stigma attached to post-natal depression and the fear of telling others in case of misunderstanding, means post-natal depression is still the biggest cause of death for mums within a year of childbirth."
WHO SUFFERS FROM IT?
It affects women during pregnancy or at any time in the first year after childbirth. Women from all walks of life are affected, including many celebrities.
Model Elle Macpherson checked in to the Meadows Institute in Arizona seven months after the birth of her son Aurelius Cy.
She said: "I had post-natal depression and I took the steps I needed to take in order to recover. There's nothing wrong with asking for help."
WHO CAN HELP ME?
First confide in the health visitor at your GP surgery.
They should be in regular contact with you anyway to check on the health of your new baby but a big part of their job is to check that you're okay too.
Anti-depressants work for some sufferers but it also helps to talk about the way you're feeling. Bluebell day organisers, the Post-natal Depression Project run free individual as well as group counselling, art therapy and even infant massage sessions across Scotland. They also provide a free creche and have helped more than 400 families so far.
For details contact The Post-natal Depression Project, Wallace House,3 Boswall Road, Edinburgh EH5 3RJ or call 0870 899 0910.
HOW WILL BLUEBELL DAY HELP?
Organisers at the Post-natal Depression Project aim to raise pounds 250,000 to set up a 24-hour free helpline for sufferers.
The cash will also fund research in to the illness.
June 6 is the UK's first official postnatal depression awareness raising day. To make a donation buy a bluebell pin or a campaign T-shirt.
For details log on to www.bluebellday.org.uk or call 0870 8990910.
WHAT IS POST-NATAL DEPRESSION?
DOCTORS believe post-natal depression may be triggered by huge hormonal changes in a new mum's brain.
After their baby is born, feel-good hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which have pulsed through their body for nine months are switched off instantly like a tap.
The resulting comedown, combined with the shock of a tough labour, sleep deprivation, worry about the baby and isolation can be devastating.
Some women get over the baby blues in just a few days but for others the feelings deepen in to post-natal depression.
SMILES BETTER: Melinda Messenger with her daughter Evie' PICTURE: UPPA.CO.UK
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Apr 18, 2006|
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