Depression and Anxiety
Depression and its related symptoms are much more common than you might expect. On average, up to 1 in 5 mums and 1 in 10 dads will experience post or perinatal depression and anxiety.
Anxiety, stress and general difficulties adjusting to parenthood may occur during pregnancy, or after you have had your baby. Many parents may be suffering from depression and anxiety and aren’t getting help because they feel embarrassed or ashamed. Not getting help can interfere with the enjoyment every parent is entitled to during parenthood. By seeking support early you’re taking very important steps to help yourself feel better, sooner – which is better for you and your baby.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is at risk of anxiety and depression?
There are many factors that may contribute to a parent being more ‘at risk’ of experiencing depression and anxiety. These include:
- Personal or family history of mental illness
- Major life changes
- Pregnancy difficulties
- Birth complications
- Lack of practical, financial and/or emotional support
- Past history of abuse or neglect
- Child health concerns
- Drug or alcohol problems
What are some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression?
As parents we can all experience different types of stresses and may feel anxious from time to time. Some of the more severe symptoms of anxiety that require awareness include:
- Constant anxious thoughts and worries
- Constant irritability and restlessness
- Taking a long time to fall asleep
- Anxiety or fear that stops you from going out
- Anxiety or fear over your baby’s health
- Panic attacks
- Overwhelming feelings of panic that are difficult to control
- Tense muscles, heart palpitations and a tight chest
What should I look for with depression?
Depression comes in different forms. You may be experiencing depression if you display symptoms like:
- Mood changes
- Sleep changes
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of inadequacy, failure or inability to cope
- Feelings of isolation and loneliness
- Inability to bond with your baby
- Fear of something happening to your baby
- No energy, low motivation, or hyperactivity
- Inability to enjoy things you used to, or withdrawal from social contacts
- Harmful thoughts
- Wanting to escape
Do I need professional help?
If you’re experiencing some of the changes listed above, or feel an acute, extended distress that impacts your daily ability to function, you may need to speak with a health professional. They’ll work with you to help identify the best approach to improve your mood, through a tailored plan of action.
Professional help may come from your GP, a counsellor, or your child and family health nurse. During the consultation, you may be asked to provide your family history, and/or complete a questionnaire on your feelings.
The importance of seeking help early:
If you think you might be experiencing depression or anxiety, seek help early. Doing so has been proven to have many benefits, including:
- Feeling ‘well’ sooner
- Improved family relationships
- Greater enjoyment of parenthood
- Enjoying new experiences
- Preventing bigger problems
Why is my mental health important?
Taking good care of yourself is the most important thing to take good care of your baby. Taking steps towards personal self-care makes a real difference when adjusting to your new role as a parent.
- Take time out for you
- Share your experience
- Rest when you can
- Eat healthy
- Accept help
- Reach out
How can others help?
Sometimes you may become so preoccupied with the needs of your baby, you don’t even realise you’re struggling. You may recognise your feelings, but not know how to talk about them. Often, it’s a partner or family member who first notices something’s wrong.
Whatever the situation, we know having a supportive partner, family member or friend makes a real difference when a parent is overwhelmed. If you’re in the position to help a vulnerable parent, we recommend:
- Offer support
- Suggest time out
- Encourage them to seek help
I'd like more information and support. Who can I contact?
We are with you every step of the way.1300 CARING | 1300 227 464
National helpline providing perinatal mental health support for expecting and new parents. | 1300 24 23 22
An organisation promoting good mental health l www.beyondblue.org.au
24-hour counselling l131 111
Your local community health centre
Your general practitioner
Your child and family health nurse
Other useful websites include:
Gidget - Support for perinatal depression
COPE - Centre of Perinatal Excellence
Beyond Blue - Postnatal depression
COPMI - Children of Parents with a Mental Illness
Wellbeing and Mental Health
Adjusting to Parenthood
Mental Health Services
Are you, or someone you know, feeling overwhelmed, worried or sad either during pregnancy or soon after the birth of a baby? If so, this could be Perinatal Mood Disorder (PMD). PMD is very common – one in five women and one in ten men experience it as new parents. However help is at hand because Karitane has a great wealth of experience helping families in this situation.Learn More