Adjusting to life as a mother can be difficult. In fact, for many women and their families, having a baby is the most significant life-changing event they will ever experience. Adjusting to this major life change, as well as coping with the day-to-day demands of a new baby, can make some people more likely to experience depression, anxiety or other mental health problems at this time, particularly if they've experienced a mental health problem in the past.
How common is depression and anxiety?
Depression and anxiety is common, particularly around the time of having a baby. We know that almost 10 per cent of women will experience depression during pregnancy and this increases to 16 per cent in the postnatal period. Anxiety is likely to be more common during pregnancy and in the following year.
How do you know if you have it?
There are a number of symptoms indicative of antenatal and postnatal depression and anxiety. You can check this out by completing the checklist and taking it along to your health professional
How is anxiety and depression treated?
There is a range of safe and effective treatments for depression and anxiety during pregnancy and following birth - even if you are breastfeeding. These include both psychological treatments (talking therapies) and medical treatments. The most important thing is to get help early and talk to a professional who will help you find the treatment that is right for you. Remember, the sooner you get help, the earlier you can recover.
For more information about antenatal and postnatal depression and anxiety, available treatments and to find a health professional, visit the beyondblue website.
How to help yourself if you have antenatal or postnatal depression or anxiety
- Seek help and treatment from a doctor or other qualified health professional.
- Seek friendships with other women, including other mums who have experienced antenatal or postnatal depression or anxiety – check your local council for support groups.
- Organise childcare or ask friends or family to look after the child/ren occasionally to allow you to have time to yourself.
- Make sure you take time to do the things you enjoy like reading a book, listening to music or having a bath.
- Spend some time with your partner to help nurture the relationship.
- Develop a support system of friends, family and professionals and accept help.
- Restrict visitors when feeling unwell, overwhelmed or tired.
- Take things one step at a time.
- Don't bottle up feelings - discuss them with friends, family and/or your partner.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Practise deep breathing and muscle relaxation techniques.
- Try to establish good sleeping patterns.
- Learn about antenatal and postnatal depression and anxiety. You can download or order free information materials at www.beyondblue.org.au or by calling 1300 22 4636
- Call a support service or mental health line if things are getting tough - see Get help now for numbers.
How to help someone with antenatal or postnatal depression or anxiety
If you are concerned for someone who may be experiencing depression or anxiety, you can download or order the free booklet: The beyondblue Guide for Carers - Supporting and caring for a person with depression, anxiety and/or a related disorder.
- Remember that these conditions are common and treatable.
- Encourage the person to see a health professional. Offer to go along to the session with them.
- Spend time listening, without feeling the need to offer solutions.
- Offer to spend time looking after the baby or older children or discuss other childcare options so the person can have time to themself.
- Offer to help with housework like cooking and cleaning.
- Let the person know how well they're doing when they make small gains.
- Encourage the person to use some self-help strategies.