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Last Updated: Friday, 27 October 2006, 23:01 GMT 00:01 UK
Childbirth 'left me feeling angry'
By Jane Elliott
Health reporter, BBC News

Terry Blake and son Connor
Terry found she resented her son
Terry Blake admits her son Connor did not have the perfect start in life.

Tipping the scales at over 11lbs, he had to be born by emergency Caesarean.

But a week after the birth, she was back in hospital, in an isolation ward suffering from septicaemia following the operation.

Terry, 40, from Bedford, and Connor had to be separated while she had her treatment. She found the whole experience stressful.


Six months later, she was back at work in her highly pressurised job as an emergency ambulance dispatcher. But within two months her anxiety levels had soared.

She found she could not cope, and her sympathetic doctor signed her off work for three months to recover.

You can put all the politically correct names on it you like, but because it does not feel like depression it does not mean that it is not
Clare Delpech, Association for Post-natal Illness

Terry, who has a family history of depression, says she did not feel like she had post-natal depression. But she admits that her anxiety symptoms were linked to the birth.

"My feelings of anxiety had escalated to the point where I was totally stressed out.

"I went to my GP and said I was ready to kill people, but I was not depressed. I was not sitting in a corner blubbing, but I was really angry.

"To say that I was depressed would have been like saying I was purple. I just wasn't, but I was extremely anxious."

The combination of a marriage, moving house and the birth of Connor had left her unable to cope.

And she was left feeling extremely resentful towards her son, whom she loves.

"I blamed him for coming along and ruining my life. Of course this then made me very guilty."


Dr Cynthia McVey, psychologist at Glasgow's Caledonian University, is calling for the term post-natal depression (PND) to be re-defined to incorporate such women.

She says many women, like Terry, need help but could be slipping through the net because they feel the diagnosis does not apply to them as they do not feel depressed.

She wants to see a new term MAMI (Maternal Anxiety and Mood Imbalance) applied to this distinct group.

She initially studied over 300 new mothers. Seventy per cent thought they had the temporary and mild condition known as the "baby blues" experienced in the early days of motherhood.

But further investigations showed that in fact a third of these new mums were at risk of the more serious PND.

Because the mums were not feeling depressed, they had not thought PND could be a possibility and so were not seeking help.

"I could not tell you how amazed we were by the results,' said Dr McVey.

"We found women who needed help, but were diagnosing themselves and saying they were not depressed, but were feeling very anxious."

She said some of the women she had spoken to had developed phobias such as agoraphobia, which were blighting their lives. Others were suffering high anxiety levels.

Dr McVey says her research, now widened through a study of an additional 300 women which produced similar results, has led her to call for the new diagnosis to acknowledge anxiety formally as a distinct condition which could be a precursor to PND.


She added that the depression label was putting a number of women off seeking help and that her studies had shown that while 90% of the mothers she interviewed said they would advise others to talk to their partners, nearly 40% said they would be reluctant to talk to health professionals and half would be reluctant to talk to a GP.

"We found many of them were worried about the stigma," added Dr McVey.

Terry agreed: "A lot of mums do not want to be stigmatised by this label. I had to go back to work and the last thing I wanted was to have a label saying post-natal depression.

"Employers would ignore the first words just see the word depression and think when will she be off again.

"I believe I had MAMI. It is a spot-on classification. It had gone beyond the baby-blues, but was not depression."

Others however are sceptical.

Clare Delpech, founder of the Association for Post-natal Illness said: "We would say that mums who continue to feel anxious are suffering from post-natal depression.

"You can put all the politically correct names on it you like, but because it does not feel like depression it does not mean that it is not."

And she stressed that their recommendation would be for anyone suffering from lengthy anxiety to seek professional advice.

Fresh push to battle baby blues
21 Apr 05 |  Scotland
My post natal depression battle
23 May 04 |  Health
Test for post natal depression
28 Oct 06 |  Health
Depressed mums 'need more help'
12 Mar 99 |  Health

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