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Anxiety and Depression in Early Parenthood

After the birth of a baby women experience a range of physical, emotional, and social changes which increase the likelihood of experiencing anxiety and depression. It is not uncommon for women to feel teariness, sadness, anxiety, or irritability the few days after giving birth. This is commonly referred to as the Baby Blues and will subside in a few days on its own. If these feelings persist for two weeks or more it is likely that a greater issue such as Postnatal Anxiety or Depression may be occurring.

Postnatal Anxiety and Depression

Postnatal anxiety and depression begin within the year after birth and affects both new mums and new dads. Up to 1 in 5new mums experience postnatal anxiety, and up to 1 in 7 new mums and up to 1 in 10 new dads experience postnatal depression following the birth of their child. Anxiety and depression usually co-occur for both men and women during this period.

Postnatal anxiety and depression can be confusing, isolating and frightening as parents are adjusting to the challenges of parenthood, dealing with their symptoms, may be experiencing symptoms at the same time as each other, and trying to care for their new baby. If symptoms last for more than two weeks, seeking support is crucial.

Signs and Symptoms of Postnatal Anxiety and Depression:

  • Worrying thoughts that persistently enter your mind about the health and wellbeing of your baby

  • Constantly feeling ‘on edge’, restless or irritable

  • Panic attacks: a racing heart, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, shakiness, or feeling detached from your surroundings

  • Tension in your muscles or body aches

  • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness

  • Feeling teary, angry, irritable, and resentful towards others

  • Constant sadness or crying

  • Sleep problems unrelated to the baby’s needs

  • Extreme lethargy: feeling physically and emotionally overwhelmed and unable to cope with the tasks involved in looking after your baby

  • Difficulties in concentration or ‘brain fog’

  • Fear of being alone with your baby

  • Withdrawal from being with friends and family

  • Feelings of loneliness and isolation

  • Having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

  • Difficulty and dread to get through the day

Factors that Contribute

  • Previous history of anxiety and depression

  • A family history of mental illness

  • Difficulties or complexities in pregnancy

  • Birth trauma

  • Previous reproductive loss: Miscarriage, IVF, termination, stillbirth, infertility, death of a baby.

  • Having a premature baby

  • Relationship stress and conflict

  • Sleep deprivation

  • Challenges with feeding or settling your baby

  • Financial stress

Getting Help

If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms listed above, know that you are not alone, and support is available at the following services:

  • Talk to your GP about how you are feeling

  • Make an appointment with one of our psychologists who specialise in perinatal mental health at the Mind Body Practice: 02 8091 7867

  • Talk to your friends and loved ones

  • Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia - PANDA National Helpline: 1300 726 306

  • Talk to others who have experienced the same symptoms

  • Pregnancy, birth, and baby helpline 1800 882 432

  • Centre of Perinatal Excellence: COPE

  • MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78

If you are concerned for yourself or your loved ones and would like to know more, please give The Mind Body Practice a call on (02) 8091 7867 to book an appointment with one of our Psychologists.


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