Perinatal Depression & Anxiety
“They’re just tired”
“It’s just the baby blues”
“We don’t see her much now, as she stays home looking after the baby”
“She’s just trying to lose the baby weight”
“He is a first-time dad, of course he is concerned about his baby”
So often perinatal depression or anxiety can be overlooked and assumptions are made that certain behaviours are just a ‘normal’ side effect of having a baby. However, it is important to be aware that some of these behaviours may be a sign of something more serious.
- If someone isn’t going out as much, it may be because they actually want to avoid family and friends because of how they are feeling.
- If someone is worrying about their child because their baby is running a fever, this is to be expected, however when affected by perinatal depression or anxiety this anxiety becomes overwhelming and they worry about baby being ill – too quiet, not breathing, crying too much, not sleeping enough, the list is endless.
- No longer interested in previous hobbies/activities – it is easy to assume that the parent is so consumed with baby they no longer want to catch up for a coffee or go for your weekly walk. With perinatal depression or anxiety there is often a lack of enjoyment or interest in many things and this could include baby.
- More irritable than usual – obviously with a new baby there is a lack of sleep, however when affected by perinatal depression or anxiety people can feel more irritable and utterly exhausted. Ironically, despite feeling so tired it can be impossible to sleep.
- Not eating as much as normal can often be attributed to mum trying to lose baby weight. With perinatal depression or anxiety, appetites can be affected both ways, some forget to eat or have no desire to eat, others eat for comfort and then feel bad about gaining weight.
- Loss of interest in sex can be common after having a baby, it may be too painful or you may be too tired. Perinatal depression or anxiety can take away any desire and partners may not understand this and feel rejected.
Perinatal depression or anxiety also creates many other symptoms that may not be obvious to friends, family or even to the person affected:
- Feeling low, tearful, ‘just not quite yourself’ is a sign of depression. This depression can have a negative effect on a person’s thoughts, such as doubting their parenting skills, lacking confidence or feeling unable to cope.
- Feeling hopeless that things aren’t going to get better, that life’s not worth living or even that your family may be better off without you. If you or someone you care about is feeling like this, please get in touch with Lifeline.
I think I might have Postnatal Depression – where can I get help?
If you have a loved one that you are concerned about please get in touch with us here at HelpingMinds.
Useful links for carers
1 in 7 women affected by PND – Source: Deloitte Access Economics. The cost of perinatal depression in Australia. Report. Post and Antenatal Depression Association 2012.
1 in 10 men affected by PND- Source: Paulson, J. F. & Bazemore, S. D. (2010). Prenatal and postpartum depression in fathers and its association with maternal depression: A meta-analysis. JAMA, 303(19), 1961-1969. (doi:10.1001/jama.2010.605)