It’s not something that comes up often in conversation, but perinatal anxiety and depression is incredibly common.
Up to 1 in 5 expectant or new mothers and 1 in 10 expectant or new fathers will experience perinatal anxiety and depression – an umbrella term that covers antenatal anxiety and depression (when it happens during pregnancy) and postnatal depression and anxiety (occurring any time after birth).
Sadly, many parents don’t speak up when the ‘baby blues’ tip over into more serious territory. And they often don’t know where to go for help.
So, to mark Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Awareness Week, Pregnancy Birth and Baby is hosting a live Facebook forum this Wednesday November 14. It’s an opportunity to join an important conversation and ask experts any questions you might have about perinatal anxiety and depression.
What is perinatal anxiety and depression?
It’s normal to experience some anxiety and a degree of ‘ups and downs’ when you’re expecting, or have had, a new baby. The ‘baby blues’, for example, can occur 3 to 5 days after giving birth but should pass within 10 days. It’s a period of heightened emotions, when new mums can feel teary, anxious or irritable.
When more pronounced anxiety or depression occurs for more than 2 weeks during pregnancy or in the year after having a baby, it’s referred to as perinatal anxiety or depression.
The symptoms of perinatal anxiety and depression may include but are not limited to:
- a consistently low mood
- feeling guilty, ashamed or hopeless
- being unable to enjoy activities that you enjoyed before pregnancy or birth
- thoughts of self-harm or suicide
Join the conversation on the Facebook forum
Pregnancy, Birth and Baby is a trusted information and support service for all parents navigating family life from pregnancy to preschool. Parents can call the helpline between 7am and 12 midnight (AEDT), 7 days a week, to speak with a maternal child health nurse – including video calls – and can access health information on the website 24 hours a day.
The idea to join forces with peak body PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) to host a Facebook forum was inspired by callers to the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby helpline themselves.
“Perinatal anxiety and depression are a significant concern for the callers to Pregnancy, Birth and Baby, but the awareness of the conditions and where to get support is not as high as we would like,” says Dianne Zalitis, clinical lead for Pregnancy, Birth and Baby. By hosting the forum, “we want to remove the stigma and fears associated with asking for mental health support while pregnant or as a parent.”
Between 1pm and 2pm (AEDT) this Wednesday November 14, counsellors from PANDA as well as clinical staff from Pregnancy, Birth and Baby will be on Facebook to answer any questions related to anxiety, depression and emotional health during pregnancy and parenting.
Simply head to Pregnancy, Birth and Baby’s Facebook page to join in.
But this is just one conversation. It’s vital that all Australians talk more about perinatal depression and anxiety, year-round. “Anxiety and depression don’t just occur during an awareness week and it affects many in the community,” says Ms Zalitis, "some of whom suffer in silence or fear of being seen as a failure as a parent.”
For more information
Mums and dads can get help and support for perinatal anxiety and depression at any time of the year from these trusted sources.
- If you or someone you know are in immediate danger of self-harm, call triple zero (000) immediately.
- Call the PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) National Helpline on 1300 726 306 between 9am and 7.30pm (AEST), Monday to Friday, to speak with a trained counsellor. You can also fill out PANDA’s short Mental Health Checklist to help you determine if you, or a loved one, may need to seek help.
- Call the beyondblue Support Service on 1300 22 4636, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to speak with a trained mental health professional. You can also chat online between 3pm and 12am (AEST), 7 days a week.
- Pregnancy, Birth and Baby’s maternal child health nurses are available on the phone between 7am and 12am (AET), 7 days a week. Call 1800 882 436. You can also book a time for a one-on-one video call here.
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