Got post-birth baby blues? Seek help from your GP...
When Felicia Boots was spared jail last month for killing her two children, the judge's decision that a prison sentence was "wholly inappropriate" was applauded by postnatal depression charities.
Like 10-15% of new mums, including celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Courteney Cox, Boots suffered postnatal depression (PND) following the births of her two children.
But while PND typically causes symptoms like low mood and anxiety, in Boots's case it was so severe that it resulted in her suffocating her daughter Lily, 14 months, and nine-week-old son Mason. Describing the tragedy as "indescribably sad", the judge in the subsequent court case ordered that 35-year-old Boots be detained at a psychiatric unit, after she admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.
While cases like this are, thankfully, very rare, it highlights how crucial it is that PND is taken seriously and mothers suffering from the condition receive the professional support they need.
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More than half of new mothers will experience some degree of mood swings, tearfulness and anxiety with the "baby blues", which normally start about three or four days after childbirth, and only last a week or so. However, PND typically starts later, lasts much longer, and can have far more extreme symptoms.
These can sometimes include thoughts of self-harm and suicide or of harming the child, but such thoughts aren't usually acted upon, explains consultant perinatal psychiatrist Dr Lucinda Green, spokesperson for the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Other research has shown that new mothers who think about harming their child are more likely to say they have suicidal thoughts, rather than admitting their true thoughts about harming their baby, says Green.
Boots had been prescribed antidepressants but hadn't been taking them, as she was convinced the children would be taken away from her because of the effects of the drugs on her breast milk.
Green, who works at St Thomas' Hospital, London, says that while this is an understandable concern, many mothers breastfeed successfully while on antidepressants.
"If someone has a very severe depression, it might be more important for her to have treatment so she gets better and can look after her baby. It's something that women should discuss with their GP," she advises.
For more information about postnatal depression, visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists' website on www.rcpsych.ac.uk/expertadvice.aspx, or the Association for Post-Natal Illness website on www.apni.org