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Recognising perinatal depression and anxiety – and how to get help
New babies are a joy and a delight. Having a baby is supposed to be the most amazing experience, many expectant and new parents think. But for some, the experience becomes completely the opposite.
Across Australia, 1 in 5 mothers and 1 in 10 fathers will experience perinatal depression and anxiety (known previously as Postnatal Depression), with suicide a leading cause of maternal death. That’s around 100,000 Australians each year, with nearly 50% of all parents experiencing adjustment disorders.
Perinatal depression and anxiety can affect anyone: first-time parents, experienced parents, older parents, younger parents, and parents from all socioeconomic backgrounds and cultures, robbing them of the joys of parenthood.
Whatever the cause, perinatal depression and anxiety is treatable, so if you suspect you or someone close to you may be experiencing symptoms, it’s important to talk to someone and let them know how you are feeling – seek help as soon as possible. A trusted GP is the best place to start to get specialised support, and a GP can provide a referral for the free psychological support services available from Gidget Foundation Australia (GFA).
It is commonly recognised that two or more of the following symptoms experienced for two weeks or more may be an indication that someone is affected by perinatal depression and anxiety:
- Inability to enjoy activities previously enjoyed
- Unable to concentrate, make decisions or get things done
- High arousal level and irritability
- Physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, constant headaches, sweaty hands, loss of appetite
- Feeling numb, hopeless and remote from family and friends
- Feeling out of control, or ‘crazy’, even hyperactive
- Unable to rest even when baby is sleeping, tired on awakening
- Nightmares and/or flashbacks of difficult birth events
- Avoiding situations that remind of birth
- Thoughts of harm befalling yourself, baby or partner
- Feelings of guilt, shame, or repetitive thoughts
- Feeling trapped or in a dark hole or tunnel with no escape
- Feelings of grief, loss, anger, tearfulness
- Feeling lethargic or hyperactive
New perinatal support service for the Northern Beaches open at Gidget House Manly
Gidget Foundation Australia has just opened their newest Gidget House service in Manly. To access this free psychological support, please firstly see your GP and let them know how you are feeling. The GP can refer you to
Gidget House with a referral letter and a mental health care plan, which they will fax through. You can call the central booking number to make your appointment, phone 1300 851 758.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has added an extra layer to the anxiety levels experienced by many expectant and new parents and, with your health and safety and that of clinicians at the heart of what we do, all of Gidget Foundation Australia’s services are now being conducted via telehealth until 13 September 2020. This is just as effective as a face to face consultation and can be very convenient for pregnant women and new parents.
ABOUT GIDGET FOUNDATION AUSTRALIA
Gidget Foundation Australia (GFA) is a not for profit organisation providing programs to support the emotional wellbeing of expectant and new parents, education in the community, workplaces and for health professionals. GFA’s research released late last year revealed the estimated financial impacts of PNDA to Australia for 2019 totalled a staggering $877Million*.
A vibrant and joyful Northern Beaches mother, “Gidget” had a loving family and wide network of caring friends. She took her own life while suffering postnatal depression when her baby was 9 months old.
The Gidget Foundation evokes Gidget’s warmth and lively spirit. Established by her friends and sisters, so that no other expectant or new parent should suffer as she did, the Foundation is now supported by the NSW Government, the Federal Government, passionate individuals, community leaders, businesses and health professionals.
Gidget Foundation Australia provides up to 10 free bulk-billed sessions with experienced perinatal specialist psychologists for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to perinatal depression and / or anxiety and have a baby up to 12 months of age. Support is also provided to those suffering pregnancy related grief and loss within the last 12 months.
“It was an incredibly helpful experience. I started out as a nervous, crying new mum and am now such a happy, confident person and have a wonderful bond with my baby and a better relationship with my husband and myself!” – client
For more information and to get involved please visit: www.gidgetfoundation.org.au
*The Cost of Perinatal Depression and Anxiety in Australia, November 2019, prepared by PwC Consulting Australia