12–18 November 2017 is Perinatal Depression & Anxiety Awareness Week
Having a baby is both an exciting and challenging time. Adding anxiety or depression can make it difficult to function and feel like you are a good enough parent. Both women and men can experience perinatal (during pregnancy and the year after birth) mental health issues and these can vary in intensity and symptoms.
With around 100,000 Australian families affected by perinatal anxiety and depression every year, this is a common illness as well as a serious one. Perinatal Depression & Anxiety Awareness Week is, therefore, a crucial time to reach out to share information about the illness so people can know what is happening to them, can seek help early and recover more quickly.
One of the key reasons many expecting and new parents struggle with perinatal anxiety or depression and don’t seek help is because they don’t know what’s happening to them. Even though it’s an illness that affects so many expecting or new mums and dads, many people still don’t know its signs and symptoms.
The signs and symptoms of antenatal or 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 the baby
• The development of obsessive or compulsive behaviours
• Abrupt mood swings
• Feeling constantly sad, low, or crying for no obvious reason
• Changes to appetite
• Being nervous, ‘on edge’, or panicky
• Feeling constantly tired and lacking energy
• Having little or no interest in all the normal things that bring joy (like time with friends, exercise, eating, or sharing partner time)
• Sleeping too much or not sleeping very well at all
• Losing interest in sex or intimacy
• Withdrawing from friends and family
• Being easily annoyed or irritated
• Finding it difficult to focus, concentrate or remember
• Engaging in more risk-taking behaviour (e.g., alcohol or drug use)
• Having thoughts of death or suicide
As a mum or dad, it is easy to feel guilt and shame that can get in the way of seeking the help you need. If this is how you feel, know that you are not alone. Having perinatal anxiety or depression does not make you a ‘bad parent’. In fact, seeking help early leads to a faster recovery with less impact on you, your relationship with your baby, partner and family.
There are a range of treatment options that can be discussed with your GP from medication approved for use during pregnancy to counselling, social support, speaking with someone who has been through a similar experience (peer support), exercise and a healthy diet.
To make an appointment with a GP at Mingara Medical, call 02 4302 3333 or book online at www.mingaramed.com.au.