ThisHerb is a proud supporter of PANDA – Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia and applauds the fine work that this organisation performs for all Australians. PANDA supports women, men and families affected by anxiety and depression during pregnancy (antenatal), and in the first year of parenthood (postnatal). PANDA operates Australia’s only specialist National Helpline for individuals and their families to recover from perinatal anxiety and depression, which is a serious and common illness affecting up to one in five expecting or new mums and one in ten expecting or new dads. The Helpline number is 1300 726 306 (Monday – Friday 9am – 7.30pm AEST/AEDT).
PANDA has identified that many new parents believe high levels of distress or unhappiness is a normal part of being a new sleep-deprived parent. These parents are often told by well-meaning family and friends that feelings of exhaustion, worry or unhappiness are normal, when in fact, these feelings might indicate postnatal anxiety or depression.
It’s actually difficult to learn how to be a parent, and about the needs and behaviours of a new baby. This is especially true when you are feeling sore, exhausted and perhaps even distressed by your birth experience. If you are struggling to understand your thoughts or feelings, and it is affecting your day-to-day activities, then please seek support. In particular, if your symptoms last more than two weeks, PANDA most strongly encourages you to seek help.
When anxiety or depression begins sometime in the year after birth it is referred to as postnatal anxiety or postnatal depression.
Tragically, more than one in 7 new mothers and up to one in 10 new fathers experience varying degrees of postnatal depression. Postnatal anxiety is just as common, and many parents experience both anxiety and depression simultaneously. This can be a very frightening as parents try to deal with their symptoms as well as tending to the needs and care of their new baby, (and sometimes other children as well). There are treatments, supports and services available to help you through this experience and it is important to know the signs and symptoms, and to seek help early.
There is another form of mental illness that can affect women after birth: postnatal psychosis. Postnatal psychosis is an extremely serious mental health condition that affects one to two women in every 1000 after childbirth. Postnatal psychosis can be a potentially life-threatening condition that can put both mother and baby at risk so if you suspect you or your partner are experiencing this illness, please seek help immediately.
The signs and symptoms of perinatal anxiety and depression include:
· Regular panic attacks
· Persistent, generalised worry, often focused on fears for the health or wellbeing of the baby
· The development of obsessive or compulsive behaviours such as constantly cleaning the house
· Abrupt mood swings
· Feeling constantly sad, low, or crying for no apparent reason
· Feeling constantly tired and lacking energy
· Losing interest in sex or intimacy
· Becoming easily annoyed or irritated
· Fear of being alone with baby
· Intrusive thoughts of harm to self or baby
· Harbouring suicidal thoughts
These symptoms can vary and may include others—please refer to panda.org.au for more information.
Postnatal anxiety and depression can be mild, moderate or severe and symptoms can begin suddenly after birth or appear gradually in the weeks or months during the first year after birth. The severity of postnatal anxiety and depression depends on the number of symptoms, their intensity and the extent to which they interfere with getting on with day-to-day life.
It’s important to remember that postnatal anxiety and depression is temporary and treatable. So, if you or your partner experience any symptoms for more than two weeks, it’s time to seek support. Otherwise things can get worse and it might take longer to recover. And if you or your partner are at immediate risk of harm call 000 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
ThisHerb is proud to promote PANDA wherever possible. We ask you to to visit the PANDA website to read more about this fine organisation by clicking on this link. www.panda.org.au