Valentine’s Day is great for those in love but is also a time to support couples struggling with perinatal anxiety and depression.
All over Australia, couples are looking forward to Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate their love for one another. Once the day arrives all the romantic clichés will come into play: candlelit dinners, roses, champagne glasses clinking together.
However there is another side to the day that is as far removed from the cliché as you could imagine: many couples across the country will be having their love put to the test by perinatal anxiety and depression. As expecting and new parents, in a time of their lives that should be rewarding and memorable for all the right reasons, these couples often find the bonds tying them together tested like never before.
You see, with all the changes and the responsibility of caring for a tiny new life, becoming a new parent is challenging enough. Throw perinatal anxiety and depression into the mix and things can become even more difficult. Indeed, more than half of callers to PANDA’s National Perinatal Anxiety & Awareness Helpline Service report changes and challenges in their relationship with their partner as one of the key issues they are dealing with.
Every day our telephone counsellors hear stories of couples struggling with the stresses of perinatal anxiety and depression. It’s reflective of the impact this common but serious illness can have on the bonds between new parents. And the longer people leave it before seeking help, the more serious the illness can become, and the more far-reaching its consequences.
And it’s not just relationships that are put at risk: the very lives of mums, dads and their babies can be as well.
That’s why we recommend that people seek help if their symptoms last for more than two weeks.
As for the symptoms themselves, they vary from person to person, and can range from lowered moods such as hopelessness, lacking motivation, loss of joy to highly aroused moods such as anxiety, panic, agitation and irritation. The best way to think of it is if you or your partner start having feelings that seem foreign or different or unsafe during pregnancy or in the first year after birth, seek support from a trusted health professional as quickly as you can.
It’s an undeniable and sombre fact that our telephone counsellors hear numerous stories from callers about their love for their partner being tested by the extra pressure perinatal anxiety and depression brings to bear on their relationships. However, on the other side of that coin, hearing afterwards that relationships have been repaired and have thrived once the illness has been treated, is one of the happiest things our Helpline counsellors can hear.
For it’s also true that for many callers, once they address their perinatal anxiety and depression, their relationships improve. For many, their love is as strong as ever, sometimes even deeper and richer for the troubles they have been forced to share.
Having survived the ordeal of perinatal anxiety and depression, these many couples can now truly enjoy this Valentine’s Day.
The Bub Hub is proud to support PANDA
If you or anyone you know is struggling with perinatal anxiety or depression, please call PANDA’s free National Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Helpline (1300 726 306, Mon-Fri 10am-5pm AEDT) or for more information, visit our website www.panda.org.au