Perinatal anxiety and depression can happen to any expecting or new parent. It is a serious illness that does not discriminate. 1 in 5 expecting or new mums and 1 in 10 expecting or new dads will experience perinatal anxiety or depression.
Postnatal Anxiety & Depression When anxiety or depression begins in the year after birth, it is referred to as postnatal anxiety or postnatal depression. More than 1 in 7 new mums² and up to 1 in 10 new dads³ experience postnatal depression each year in Australia. Postnatal anxiety is just as common, and many parents experience anxiety and depression at the same time. Postnatal anxiety and depression can be a frightening and isolating experience as parents try to deal with their symptoms at the same time as needing to care for a new baby. There are treatments, supports and services available to help you through this experience. If symptoms last for more than two weeks, it’s time to seek support.
The signs and symptoms of postnatal anxiety and depression can vary and may include:
- Panic attacks (a racing heart, palpitations, shortness of breath, shaking or feeling physically ‘detached’ from your surroundings)
- Persistent, generalised worry, often focused on fears for the health or wellbeing of baby
- The development of obsessive or compulsive behaviours
- Increased sensitivity to noise or touch
- Changes in appetite: under or overeating
- Sleep problems unrelated to the baby’s needs
- Extreme lethargy: a feeling of being physically or emotionally overwhelmed and unable to cope with the demands of chores and to look after baby
- Memory problems or loss of concentration (‘brain fog’).
If you’re concerned about what is happening to you, you can:
- Confide in your partner, a trusted friend or family member
- Let your GP or other trusted health professional know what you’re experiencing. Psychological interventions can be an effective support for those experiencing Perinatal anxiety & Depression.