Support group saw increase in depression

Families who have benefited from Fern House services. Samantha Holmes and her son Oliver, Jenn Hartley and Kenneth and Sarah Norton and Waimanuka.
Families who have benefited from Fern House services. Samantha Holmes and her son Oliver, Jenn Hartley and Kenneth and Sarah Norton and Waimanuka.

A postnatal advocacy group says the hike in people in Marlborough and Nelson being prescribed antidepressants is "not surprising".

Post Natal Depression Marlborough which runs ante and postnatal group therapy through Fern House said the recession and societal changes contributed to the increase in people suffering from depression and anxiety.

Figures revealed by Government pharmaceutical purchaser Pharmac show 16,400 patients were prescribed antidepressants in Marlborough and Nelson last year, compared with 12,800 in 2008. The 28.1 per cent hike is the highest increase in New Zealand.

PND Marlborough co-ordinator Jordie Kotze said she was "not surprised" by the increasing number of people being prescribed.

While antidepressants are advocated in moderate to severe cases of depression, she said they should be used in combination with counselling.

"The effects (of postnatal depression) are tangible on our community, especially considering if mum is not happy then no-one is happy," Mrs Kotze said.

"Steve Biddulph a well-known child psychologist said young women today spend 80 per cent less time with older women than they did 50 years ago. They don't have that straight talking loving advice from someone that cares.

"A lot of people are struggling in Marlborough financially and with housing. The recession hasn't helped.

"Their mothers and sisters and even grandmothers are at work, they feel isolated and that compounds the problem."

Postnatal depression affects 20 per cent of mothers of newborns in Marlborough each year, according to Mrs Kotze.

Thirteen women from teen mothers to women in their early 40s attend the therapy sessions each week run from Barnardos. Women are encouraged to share their stories and work through their experiences, she said.

"Women who have given birth are more likely to get depressed than any other time in their lives," Mrs Kotze said. "There is a lot of excitement around the birth of a baby. Often there is a come-down and mothers feel not quite right with themselves.

"Women suffer low mood, anxiety, feelings that they can't cope or a bad parent. It is a myth that they sit around crying. These are really good mums, they are more likely to be down on themselves."

Kate Goodwin who suffered from postnatal distress after the birth of her third child and the death of her father refused antidepressant medication.

The 33-year-old said it was a personal choice.

"It didn't sit well with me. There is a definitely a place for antidepressants. I was dealing with grief and I didn't think it was appropriate. I would still have to grieve after taking them."

Fern House plan to open a one stop perinatal family support centre to be open 5 days a week in Blenheim and expand to have bases in Picton, Renwick and Seddon.


If you are seeking help and support for ante or post natal depression please contact Jordie Kotze on 027 32 66070 or email 

The Marlborough Express