Being pregnant or becoming a new parent can be both exciting and challenging.
Having a degree of trouble adjusting to the changes that come with impending parenthood or the arrival of a new baby is natural. It’s when general ups and downs develop into something more serious that it’s time to take steps.
If a low mood or feelings of anxiousness worry you or stop you from functioning normally for more than two weeks, you may be experiencing perinatal anxiety or depression. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is fine to talk about it. In fact, it is better that you do! The sooner you seek support, the sooner you can begin treatment and start feeling better.
Perinatal anxiety and depression—treatment and recovery
What treatment is best?
We know that everyone experiences perinatal anxiety and depression differently. There are also different degrees of the illness. This means there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Everyone responds to treatment differently—one treatment for PNDA might work for one person, but not the next. You are unique, and so is your treatment.
What is the first step towards treatment and recovery?
First off, it’s important to seek support from a trusted health professional such as your GP. Here it’s important to speak as honestly and openly as you can about what you’re feeling, even your darkest thoughts, so your GP can identify what’s happening.
Your GP should also be able to rule out any other physical conditions that we know can contribute to feelings of depression, anxiety, low energy or lack of motivation. If these are identified and treated the feelings that are worrying you may stop.
How can perinatal depression and anxiety be treated?
The GP should help you understand what is happening and direct you to the best treatment options. These might include:
- Therapy or counselling: talking about your feelings and what is happening, in a group setting or one-on-one with a professional counsellor, can be vital to your recovery.
- Methods of self-care: taking time for yourself is an essential part of also caring for your baby.
- Medication: whether prescribed by your GP, or after referral to a psychiatrist, medication plays an important role for many new mums experiencing postnatal anxiety and depression. There are a range of medications available including some which are compatible with breastfeeding.
Other health professionals like maternal and child health nurses can also provide you with advice and information. It is important to remember that if you do not feel heard by your health professional or you are not satisfied with the advice and treatment you receive, it is worth seeking a second opinion.
If you are in any doubt, check out the PANDA website or call the PANDA National Helpline. Our telephone counsellors will listen carefully to your concerns, help you understand what is going on and direct you towards the most appropriate steps to take from there.
If you – or anyone you know – is struggling with perinatal anxiety or depression, you can call PANDA’s free National Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Helpline (1300 726 306). The service offers counselling, information and referral services with ongoing telephone support for families throughout Australia. The helpline operates Monday to Friday from 9am to 7:30pm EST.
Visit www.panda.org.au for more information and useful resources.