Stories can be powerful. This is why we feature many personal stories on PANDA’s website. They’re written by women and men who have experienced the anguish of perinatal anxiety and depression and who have come out the other side and recovered.
I’ve been amazed by how many times I’ve heard from mums and dads who had been struggling with the challenge of becoming a parent, being up in the middle of the night unable to sleep and sitting in the dark, trawling through these stories. Reading and learning how others have made it through the dark times and worked their way towards recovery.
The stories shared by these incredible women and men are all about hope. They illustrate that perinatal anxiety and depression is a temporary, treatable illness, and that people do recover and move on with their lives.
So I know how powerful stories can be – which is why during Perinatal Depression & Anxiety Awareness Week (12 – 18 November) PANDA is harnessing the power of stories to raise awareness and inspire hope in those who may be struggling.
Why is it so important to raise awareness? It’s important because perinatal anxiety and depression is common and its consequences, if left untreated, can be devastating. It can even put lives at risk.
As many as 1 in 5 expecting or new mums and 1 in 10 expecting or new dads will experience perinatal anxiety or depression. Around 100,000 families across Australia will be affected this year. And less common, but extremely serious, 600 families in Australia each year will face the devastating impact of postnatal psychosis.
Yet there is still a great deal of confusion and lack of understanding in the community about these illnesses. Many people still don’t know the signs and symptoms to look out for. And many still don’t know where to go to seek help.
We know that one of the key reasons many expecting and new parents struggling with perinatal anxiety or depression don’t seek help is because they don’t know what’s happening to them. So it’s absolutely critical that more people know about these illnesses so mums and dads can seek help and recover more quickly.
This is why Perinatal Depression & Anxiety Awareness Week is so important. And as a member of the wonderful Bub Hub community, you can help!
Look for the signs and symptoms of perinatal anxiety and depression in any expecting or new parent you know. These can include constant sadness or crying; panic attacks; persistent, generalised worry; sleep problems unrelated to the baby’s needs; lethargy; loss of confidence and self-esteem; and withdrawal from friends and family.
Most importantly, keep the conversation going! It is so important that we can be comfortable talking about mental health. By starting conversations all across Australia, you can help expecting and new mums, dads and their families understand what the illness is, what the signs are and why it’s important to seek help early. And just as importantly, who to talk to and where to go in seeking support.
If you or someone you know is struggling with perinatal anxiety or depression the PANDA National Helpline is available for support 1300 726 306 M – F 9.00am – 7.30pm (AEST/ADST)