A PRESTONPANS-BASED support group for postnatal depression has celebrated its fifth birthday.

The East Lothian branch of PANDAS (Postnatal Depression Advice and Support) has hit its fifth birthday and is going from strength to strength.

The group was formed by nurse Frances Lang after she herself experienced postnatal depression (PND).

Frances, who is a mental health nurse at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, said: “I have four children and it was after I had my second baby that I suffered from PND.

“It was a really difficult time and when I had my third baby it was such a nice experience that it made me sad ,as I felt that I had missed out on the first year of my second son’s life.

“I contacted PANDAS, an English-based charity, and through them I set up East Lothian PANDAS.”

The 44-year-old wanted to try to ensure no one would feel as lonely as she did when she went through PND.

She said: “I held the first meeting and for the first couple of weeks no one turned up. Eventually on the third week a lady turned up and there have been several women over the years who have come along.

“The meetings are held every fortnight on a Monday evening at the Pennypit Pagoda.

“The group is very informal where we meet up and have a chat and a cup of tea.

“We have lots of different women who have come along over the years, different ages and backgrounds.”

Next month, Frances starts a postgraduate certificate in perinatal mental health and, although she hopes to gain employment in the field, will continue to run the peer support group in a volunteer capacity.

“The group has been successfully running for five years,” she said.

“I felt such a sense of achievement reaching this milestone as when I first started the group, I wasn’t sure if it would be successful.

“Although things are improving, there is very much still a stigma attached to mental health and a lot of women fear that their babies may be taken from them if they seek help, therefore a lot of women suffer alone.

“The group is all about peer support where women support each other. I hope it continues to go from strength to strength and that we will make it to our 10-year anniversary!”

For more information about the group, email eastlothianpandas@gmail.com