Black Swan Health is urging new and expectant parents to take care of their mental health during Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week (November 11-17).
Perinatal depression can occur anywhere from conception to around 12 months after birth and can affect both women and men.
Perinatal depression is more common in women, with around one in 10 mothers likely to develop postnatal or antenatal depression.
Black Swan Health clinical psychologist Adriana Farcut said she believed the number of women affected by perinatal depression was higher than shown in some studies.
“I believe the number of mothers that have reported to be experiencing postnatal depression may be higher than statistical studies have shown,” she said.
“In my experience most mothers have fears and insecurities about being a parent, whether they experience antenatal or postnatal depression and anxiety or not- this is normal.
“Mothers may be reluctant to seek help for depression or anxiety due to personal fears and insecurities. Many mothers feel guilty for feeling depressed or anxious after the birth of their child because they feel it should be a happy and positive experience. They may feel they have failed as mothers and may be judged by others as being unsuitable mothers. It can be a very lonely experience, but it doesn’t have to be.”
Diagnosis for perinatal depression and anxiety is usually carried out by a General Practitioner but can be done through screening and early identification through a child health nurse.
Some of the symptoms of perinatal depression are:
Antenatal signs Postnatal signs
–Panic attacks -Fear of being alone with your baby
-Persistent worry or fear -Feeling unable to cope
-Mood swings -Thoughts of harm to yourself or baby
-Constant sadness -Under or over eating
-Lack of energy -Increased sensitivity to noise or touch
-Thoughts of self-harm
Ms Farcut said if a parent is struggling with postnatal or antenatal depression the best thing to do is contact a GP and ask for treatment suggestions.
“In many instances it is a case of acquiring skills to deal with this new and challenging time in a parent’s life. Antenatal anxiety and a cluster of environmental factors have been identified as risk factors for postnatal depression and anxiety,” she said.
“Accessing counselling services will assist parents to identify the existing factors that may be contributing to their difficulties in the antenatal and postnatal period, and help them to develop strategies and coping mechanisms to support a positive and enjoyable experience with the new baby.”
Black Swan Health offers counselling services for perinatal depression and anxiety with referral from a GP.
For more information on perinatal depression or our counselling services visit our website here