Being a new parent is amazing, daunting, exciting, exhausting and much much more. The experience is different for everyone. It is often a persistent, relentless demand, you are most likely sleep deprived, and you are constantly facing new and unexpected changes in your baby. We spend our lives dreaming and fantasising about what it will be like when we have children, we picture taking them to the park, birthday parties, family celebrations, the beach, and so on. However, new parents will also know about the worry, the guilt, the confusion, the self-doubt and the loneliness, but unfortunately, we don’t always hear about this.
Post natal depression (PND) and post natal anxiety (PNA) is more common than you may think (you may have also heard the terms postpartum depression and anxiety, or perinatal depression and anxiety when also includes the pregnancy). According to PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) more than 1 in 7 women and 1 in 10 men experience PND each year.
(Note: If someone experiences the onset of depression or anxiety in the 12 months following birth, this is when we consider it to be PND or PNA.)
What are the signs of PND and PNA?
Everyone’s experience is different. Here are some common symptoms people with PND or PNA may experience:
- Feeling sad or crying very often
- Generalised ongoing worry, (this may be focused on fears for the health or wellbeing of your baby)
- Panic attacks
- Feeling afraid to be alone with your baby
- Obsessive or compulsive behaviours
- An increased sensitivity to touch or noise
- Sleep problems (that are not related to your baby’s sleep)
- Changes in your appetite
- Often feeling irritable or angry
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Feeling physically or emotionally overwhelmed and unable to cope
- Memory problems and finding it hard to think and concentrate
- Lack of self-esteem and confidence
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
- Thoughts of death or suicide
What should I do?
- If you feel concerned that you may be experiencing PND or PNA you should know that you are not alone. This experience is common, you do not have to feel this way forever, and there is help available to you. The first step is to speak to you GP, and if you have trusted friends or family you should also tell them how you are feeling. You may also wish to contact Jessica to discuss this further.
- If you are concerned that someone you know may be experiencing PND or PNA speak to them. Ask them how they are feeling, let them know you are there for them. You should also speak to your GP and contact the PANDA line on 1300 726 306 for more information.
Some more helpful resources:
PANDA: 1300 726 306 or https://www.panda.org.au/
Lifeline: 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au
Men’s Line Australia: 1300 789 978 or www.mensline.org.au
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636or www.beyondblue.org.au/
Women’s Help: 1 300 134 130 or http://www.wire.org.au
Suicide Helpline Victoria: 1300 651 251