Most new mums are aware of postnatal depression, but equally as prevalent is postnatal anxiety. Conception to the postnatal period is the most common time for women to experience anxiety.
Interestingly, it is estimated that 1800 new parents are diagnosed with the condition every week in Australia, costing the economy around $500million every year.
And it is understandable…there is so much information for the newly pregnant woman to absorb about the do’s and don’ts, what to eat and what not to eat, and it seems that everyone has an opinion.
Many women who have had multiple miscarriages or have had difficulty conceiving may experience even greater levels of anxiety, hoping fervently that the pregnancy continues.
Add to that, changes in your body and hormone levels and the stage for stress is set. And along with stress, comes anxiety.
The Baby Blues
It can be difficult to distinguish between anxiety and what we hear about regularly as the “baby blues”.
This is another way of describing depression.
The “baby blues” can make you feel teary, cranky and overly sensitive.
These feelings tend to last just a few days, anything longer and you could be experiencing anxiety or depression.
Some people will experience both anxiety and depression.
How do you know you have anxiety?
You could be experiencing one or more of these symptoms: panic attacks, constant restlessness, racing heart, inability to concentrate, sleeplessness, worry or fear that consumes your thoughts, that prevents you from going out with the baby or causes you to check on the baby constantly.
How does this compare to depression?
The “baby blues” is a term used to describe depressive symptoms in the days after birth (generally from day 3 to day 10) but those symptoms only last for a few days.
Postnatal depression can start one month to one year after the birth of the baby, and effects around 16 percent of women.
There is a cross-over of symptoms with anxiety – there can be fear and worry preventing you from going out with the baby, but there is also fear of being alone with the baby, and then there are symptoms common to those experienced during depression at any other stage of life.
- losing interest in everyday activities
- not looking after yourself
- not wanting to have social contact with family and friends
- having negative thoughts
- feelings of inadequacy
- lacking motivation and inability to cope with daily activities
- Thoughts of ending your own and/or your child’s life.
It is important if you experience the latter emotions that you make contact with your GP and/or local hospital.
These symptoms also, of course, relate to new dads because babies change everyone’s world.
It can mean changes for your relationship which of course effect new Dads.
There are so many helpful resources available to help parents cope with their new arrival and their new feelings. Beyond Blue has some very good resources on their website.