Postnatal depression: Singing in a group could lessen symptoms for mums, study finds

Mothers could lessen the symptoms of postnatal depression by singing in a group with their baby, according to new research.

A study of 134 mums found those receiving 10 weeks of singing workshops reported a faster improvement in the first 40 weeks of motherhood than those who did not take part.

Researchers believe the sing-alongs allowed mums to listen and learn new songs as well as creating new songs reflecting motherhood.

Postnatal depression affects around one in eight new mothers. Credit: PA

The new study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, split the mothers into three groups: the singing workshop, a creative play workshop and those having standard care.

Mums with moderate to severe postnatal depression in the singing group reported a much faster improvement in their symptoms than mothers in the usual care group.

No difference was found between the play workshop group and those who received usual care in the study by the Centre for Performance Science.

Symptoms of post-natal depression can take affect at any point in the baby's first year. Credit: PA

Lead researcher Dr Rosie Perkins said: "Postnatal depression is debilitating for mothers and their families, yet our research indicates that for some women something as accessible as singing with their baby could help to speed up recovery at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives."

The chairwoman of the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Perinatal Faculty, Dr Trudi Seneviratne, welcomed the "exciting" findings on "novel psycho-social interventions such as singing".

What is postnatal depression and what are the signs?

Postnatal depression affects around one in eight new mothers and can also affect fathers and partners, though far less commonly.

It extends beyond the expected "baby blues" that last for a fortnight after the birth.

Symptoms of postnatal depression can take affect at any point in the baby's first year and build up gradually. As a result many women are unaware they have it.

According to the NHS, the signs include:

  • a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood

  • lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world

  • lack of energy and feeling tired all the time

  • trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day

  • difficulty bonding with your baby

  • withdrawing from contact with other people

  • problems concentrating and making decisions

  • frightening thoughts – for example, about hurting your baby

Parents are urged to speak to their GP or a health visitor if you think you or your partner may be depressed.

Visit the NHS site for more information