12-18 November is Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week

The 12 – 18 November is Perinatal Depression and anxiety Awareness week. This week provides an opportunity to raise awareness of Perinatal Depression and Anxiety, including signs to look for and where to find support.

What is the difference between Perinatal, Antenatal and Postnatal Depression?

Perinatal Depression

Refers to depression occurring at any stage from conception through to birth & beyond

Antenatal Depression

Occurs during pregnancy

Postnatal Depression

Develops between one month and up to one year after birth

Perinatal Depression and Anxiety affects up to 1 in 7 Australian women and around 100,000 Australian families per year, however many people do not seek help because they are not able to identify what is happening to them. Many people don’t know the signs and symptoms to look for, and if people do recognise these signs and symptoms, it is often difficult to know where to go for help.

Perinatal Depression affects Dads too

Perinatal Depression and anxiety affects 1 in 10 fathers. This is sometimes, but not always, a reaction to a partner’s illness. It is important that new fathers recognise signs and symptoms and seek help early on.

What are the symptoms of Perinatal Depression and what should you do if you notice them?
  • Very low mood, with difficulty finding joy out of anything
  • Feeling like a failure as a mother
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Feeling guilty and ashamed
  • Feeling anxious or panicky
  • Being scared of being alone or going out

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms for two or more weeks, talk to your doctor or midwife, who will help you find appropriate help. If you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself, your partner or baby, seek help straight away.

What help is available to people experiencing Perinatal Anxiety or Depression?

There are a number of options available across the Northern Sydney region for people experiencing Perinatal Depression. As a health professional, it can be difficult to assess severity, but it is important that you are able to provide an appropriate referral. If you are not sure where to refer your patient, you can call SNPHN Mental Health Triage on 1300 782 391, or click here for further information. There are also help lines below which people can call for guidance.

  • Lifeline group therapy

‘Being Mums’ is an 8 week course that provides the opportunity to reflect on motherhood, share experiences and develop new skills, and covers topics such as parenting and expectations, managing stress and emotions with mindfulness, and improving relationships. ‘Being Mums’ is run at no cost in various locations across the region, including Mona Vale, Hornsby, Gordon. For a referral, see your family doctor. If you would like further information, call 8287 1158 or email PHNgroups.coordinator@lifelineh2h.org.au.

Short-term individual psychological therapies are available at no cost to people experiencing perinatal anxiety and depression. This service is available through a number of mental health providers, with flexibility in terms of treatment modality and location. Ask your family doctor for a referral.

Short term individual psychological therapies are available at no cost to people from Chinese backgrounds experiencing perinatal anxiety or depression. Treatments are culturally appropriate, and are available in Cantonese, Mandarin, Shanghainese and English. Ask your family doctor for a referral.

The Gidget Foundation provide bulk billed professional psychological support services for women who are pregnant and new mums and dads suffering anxiety or depression. Call 9460 1550 or email contact@gidgethouse.com.au for further information.

The following phone lines are also available to expectant or new mums and dads needing to speak with someone:

PANDA – 1300 726 306

Beyondblue – 1300 224 636

Pregnancy, Birth and Baby – 1800 882 436