Perinatal anxiety and depression is more serious and common than many people realise. Up to one in five expecting or new mothers and one in 10 expecting or new fathers will experience this illness.
Around 100,000 families will be affected every year across Australia.
Left untreated, perinatal anxiety and depression – and postnatal psychosis, which is a more severe form of mental illness – can have a devastating impact on parents, partners, baby and the rest of the family. In the worst cases, lives can even be put at risk.
Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Awareness (PANDA) Week was established by PANDA in 2005 to increase awareness of these illnesses and to reduce stigma. Since then PANDA has been using the Week to speak out about supporting the mental and emotional wellbeing of expecting and new parents, including raising awareness about the signs to look for and where to go to seek support.
The theme of this year’s PANDA Week campaign is ‘I wish I knew’, because many expecting and new mums and dads are surprised and shocked by how challenging becoming a parent can be.
This is such a common experience that we hear about on our National Helpline. Looking back, many feel that if they had known more, and been better able to prepare for some of the challenges that come with being parents, they might have been better able to cope.
We hope talking about these issues will help kick-start conversations about the reality of becoming a parent, including when things get really tough and perinatal mental illness strikes.
During PANDA Week, PANDA will be sharing real ‘I wish I knew’ stories and other information to show that perinatal anxiety and depression is serious and complex but it is also temporary and treatable.
I encourage anyone who is interested in helping us raise awareness about this illness to visit our campaign page to find more ways to support PANDA Week activities.
The Bub Hub is proud to support PANDA
For support, please call PANDA’s National Helpline on 1300 726 306 Mon-Fri 9am-7:30pm. For more information or to support PANDA Week activities visit www.panda.org.au/awareness/panda-week