Recognising perinatal depression and anxiety – and how to get help
Date: March 11, 2020
Author: CATHY HOPKINS, Program Coordinator, Service Awareness & Promotion, Gidget Foundation Australia
New babies are a joy, bringing delight along with challenges. Across Australia, 1 in 5 mothers and 1 in 10 fathers will experience perinatal depression and anxiety (known previously as Postnatal Depression), with suicide a leading cause of maternal death. That’s around 100,000 Australians each year, with nearly 50% of all parents experiencing adjustment disorders.
Perinatal depression and anxiety can affect anyone: first-time parents, experienced parents, older parents, younger parents, and parents from all socioeconomic backgrounds and cultures, robbing them of the joys of parenthood.
Whatever the cause, perinatal depression and anxiety is treatable, so if you suspect you or someone close to you may be experiencing symptoms, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. A trusted GP is the best place to start to get specialised support, and a GP can provide a referral for the support services available from Gidget Foundation Australia.
It is commonly recognised that two or more of the following symptoms experienced for two weeks or more may be an indication that someone is affected by perinatal depression and anxiety:
- Inability to enjoy activities previously enjoyed
- Unable to concentrate, make decisions or get things done
- High arousal level and irritability
- Physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, constant headaches, sweaty hands, loss of appetite
- Feeling numb, hopeless and remote from family and friends
- Feeling out of control, or ‘crazy’, even hyperactive
- Unable to rest even when baby is sleeping; tired on awakening
- Nightmares and/or flashbacks of difficult birth events
- Avoiding situations that remind of birth
- Thoughts of harm befalling yourself, baby or partner
- Feelings of guilt, shame, or repetitive thoughts
- Feeling trapped or in a dark hole or tunnel with no escape
- Feelings of grief, loss, anger, tearfulness
- Feeling lethargic or hyperactive
ABOUT GIDGET FOUNDATION AUSTRALIA
Gidget Foundation Australia is a not for profit organisation providing programs to support the emotional wellbeing of expectant and new parents, education in the community, workplaces and for health professionals.
Gidget was a vibrant and joyful Sydney mother with a loving family and wide network of caring friends. Gidget took her own life while suffering postnatal depression. Her baby was 9 months old.
The Gidget Foundation evokes Gidget’s warmth and lively spirit. Established by her friends and sisters, the foundation is now supported by the NSW Government, the Federal Government, passionate individuals, community leaders, businesses and health professionals.
“It was an incredibly helpful experience. I started out as a nervous, crying new mum and am now such a happy, confident person and have a wonderful bond with my baby and a better relationship with my husband and myself!” – client
For more information and to get involved please visit: www.gidgetfoundation.org.au
*The Cost of Perinatal Depression and Anxiety in Australia, November 2019, prepared by PwC Consulting Australia