Parenthood is filled with intense and extreme experiences and emotions as you work not only to grow and nurture your baby, but also to rediscover yourselves in the new roles of mum and dad. 1 in 5 new mums and 1 in 10 new dads will experience anxiety and depression. Symptoms vary from physical presentations such as heart racing, sweating, irritability and the inability to sleep to anxious or depressive thoughts, mood swings or flat moods, disengagement from activities and from family and friends and even from your partner and baby. Whilst experiencing emotional highs and lows are a normal part of parenthood and adjusting to your new identity, if you are concerned about the severity of symptoms or the length of time experiencing symptoms, it may be beneficial to seek professional support to gain a better understanding of what is happening and how you can develop strategies for managing your own symptoms and supporting your partner.
Symptoms of Postnatal Depression
- feeling low or numb – some people describe feeling nothing at all
- lack of interest and/or pleasure in life, yourself and/or the baby
- no energy – finding it difficult to cope and get through the day (may also be attributed to lack of sleep)
- loss of confidence, feeling helpless, hopeless and worthless
- often feeling close to tears, highly sensitive to other’s comments or emotional
- feeling angry, irritable or resentful towards other mothers, the baby or your partner
- changes in sleep – not being able to sleep even when you have the opportunity, or conversely, wanting to sleep all the time
- changes in appetite – accompanied by weight loss or weight gain
- difficulties concentrating, thinking clearly or making decisions (which could also result from lack of sleep)
- feeling isolated, alone and disconnected from others
- having thoughts of harming yourself, baby and/or other children.
If you are experiencing a number of these symptoms, and these are lasting for two weeks or more in the first year of having your baby, you may be experiencing postnatal depression.
Please talk to your Obstetrician, GP, Child and Family Health nurse, friends or family if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above and/ or you believe you may have postnatal depression.
Postnatal depression IS treatable. Suffering alone does not make you a better parent. Professionals work with families to ensure parents gain the support they need to parent their children. Many women fear their children will be taken away from them if they seek help. Our goal is to keep women with their children and provide them the services and support they need to be able to care for them. When your mental health is poor you can't be the parent you want to be. We aim to empower parents so that they can live the way they want. For more information on postnatal depression, please click the link above to the COPE website (from which the symptoms above are taken).
Another common screening tool used for Postnatal Depression is the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. This can also be used during pregnancy to detect depression. Click here for a copy. A score of 10 or above requires further assessment; please see your GP or contact us directly for an appointment (see Service Details for referral information, fees and rebates).