peri-natal depression
and anxiety

Help through pregnancy and beyond

Around 10% of women in Australia experience antenatal (while pregnant) depression and/or anxiety.

Up to 16% of women experience postnatal (after birth) depression.

One in twenty dads can also experience postnatal depression.

Peri and Postnatal depression and anxiety (PNDA) can mild, and it can also be devastating and debilitating. These illnesses can persist and may affect not just a new mother, but everyone around her.

Early intervention is recommended.

PNDA is not a modern condition, it’s just a new name for what may have been called something like a ‘nervous breakdown’ generations ago. The name is an umbrella term, it incorporates both anxiety and depression during the pregnancy, as well as post-natal anxiety and depression after the birth.

Early identification and prevention can help many families through difficult periods.

You don’t need to feel depressed or anxious to come and discuss pregnancy, birth or parenting issues – our specialist psychologists are there to listen and help with any concerns or problems you may have in this perinatal period.

Dr Amanda Mullin and Anica Spatz are both accredited consulting psychologists and work closely with local maternity units including Westmead Private
Hospital.

Who can get perinatal or postnatal anxiety and depression?

  • Anyone can experience PNDA.
  • PNDA can be mild, moderate or severe.
  • Symptoms can begin suddenly after birth or appear gradually in the weeks or months during the first year after birth.
  • PNDA occurs in all cultures and can happen to child bearing women of all ages.
  • Pregnancy is the common factor.
  • It can happen after miscarriage or stillbirth, normal or traumatic delivery, or caesarean delivery.
  • PNDA may occur after the birth of a first baby, or subsequent children.
  • Having PNDA with one child increases the chance of recurrence with a subsequent pregnancy.

Symptoms of Postnatal Anxiety and Depression

The severity of PNDA depends on the amount of symptoms, their intensity and the extent to which they interfere with normal functioning. The combination and severity of symptoms will be different for every woman, resulting in many different appearances of PNDA.

Symptoms may include:

  • Panic attacks (a racing heart, palpitations, shortness of breath, shaking or feeling physically ‘detached’ from your surroundings)
  • Persistent, generalised worry, often focused on fears for the health or wellbeing of baby
  • Constant sadness or crying
  • Increased sensitivity to noise or touch
  • Changes in appetite: under or overeating
  • Sleep problems (unrelated to the baby’s sleep pattern)
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Feeling physically or emotionally overwhelmed and unable to cope with the demands of daily life
  • Memory problems or loss of concentration (‘brain fog’)
  • Loss of confidence and lowered self esteem
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Fear of being alone with baby
  • Intrusive thoughts of harm to yourself or baby
  • Obsessive or compulsive behaviours
  • Irritability and/or anger
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Loss of pleasure and interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of perinatal or postnatal anxiety or depression, help and support is available. We recommend speaking with your GP first, to rule out any contributing medical conditions.

At Mindworx Psychology we have compassionate, caring and empathetic Psychologists who are trained to help.

You don’t need to feel depressed or anxious to come and discuss pregnancy, birth or parenting issues – our specialist psychologists are there to listen and help with any concerns or problems you may have in both the perinatal or postnatal period.

Dr Amanda Mullin and Anica Spatz are both accredited consulting psychologists and work closely with local maternity units including Westmead Private
Hospital.

FAQS

Referrals: You do not need a referral to make an appointment.

Private Health Fund Rebates: This will depend on your level of cover, we recommend speaking directly to your health fund.

Medicare Rebates: To access a Medicare rebate, you will need to bring a referral from your GP or treating Doctor.

Your GP can refer you under the Better Access to Mental Health Initiative (see our FAQS page for more information). Alternatively, A GP can refer for up to 3 sessions of Non-Directive Pregnancy Support Counselling. This scheme is specifically for women who are pregnant and have any concerns about their pregnancy, including women who have experienced a recent pregnancy loss and/or traumatic delivery, and women who have any concerns about their baby, or their own health within a year after birth.

Rebate amounts are different for each referral type, you can read more on the Medicare website or talk to us when you call about referrals and rebates.

Further reading

PANDA: Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia – Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia have a website filled with practical information and resources designed for women and their partners.

BEYOND BLUE: Pregnancy & New Parents – Beyond Blue have a wealth of information on their website.

Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia have also have a website specifically for men called How Is Dad Going to help reduce stigma and provide access to resources to support the family as a unit.