Perinatal Depression & Anxiety Myths
With around 100,000 Australian families affected by perinatal anxiety and depression every year, this is a common illness as well as a serious one. It’s also something that it often shrouded in mystery, misconceptions and myths.
For the first day of PNDA Awareness week Mama Tribe has teamed up with PANDA to bring you “Perinatal Depression & Anxiety Myths”.
By talking and sharing honest and accurate information, together we can reduce some of the myths around post natal depression and anxiety and ensure that all mums + dads are supported to the pre + post natal period.
MYTH #1: This can’t be perinatal depression or anxiety… I haven’t had the baby yet!
FACT: Mums and dads can expect to experience a whole range of emotions during pregnancy. However depression and anxiety symptoms that last for two weeks or more and impact daily functioning indicate it’s time to get help. Getting help early during pregnancy can reduce the risk of postnatal depression.
MYTH #2: I don’t have a history of mental illness so perinatal anxiety and depression won’t happen to me.
FACT: Although those with a history of mental illness have a higher risk of developing perinatal depression and anxiety, many parents experience depression or anxiety for the first time during pregnancy or after having a baby. Perinatal anxiety and depression is common and can affect anyone.
MYTH #3: Parents with perinatal anxiety or depression don’t love their babies.
FACT: Mums and dads with perinatal depression or anxiety often feel a strong connection with their baby, despite their low mood or anxiety. For others, ongoing, untreated depression and anxiety can make it hard to emotionally connect and this can impact on their baby’s wellbeing. With early support and treatment parents can recover and go on to enjoy parenthood.
MYTH #4: It is obvious when someone has perinatal anxiety or depression.
FACT: Perinatal anxiety and depression has many faces: the combination and severity of symptoms differs for everyone. Many parents go to extraordinary lengths to hide their inner world, adopting a ‘mask of coping’ due to shame and a fear of being considered an ‘unfit parent’. It’s important to know the signs to look out for and to ask new parents how they’re really going.
MYTH #5: Perinatal depression and anxiety is a woman’s illness.
FACT: Men and non-birthing parents can experience perinatal depression and anxiety too. It is thought that around 1 in 20 men experience depression during pregnancy (antenatal) and up to 1 in 10 new dads struggle with postnatal depression.
MYTH #6: Perinatal anxiety and depression is caused by hormones.
FACT: Like all forms of mental illness a range of biological, psychological and social factors contribute to the development of perinatal anxiety and depression. These include hormonal changes, pregnancy and birth complications, previous mental health issues, breastfeeding difficulties, unsettled baby, sleep deprivation, lack of support, financial stress and relationship issues.
If you or someone you know is struggling with perinatal anxiety or depression PANDA’s Helpline is available for support 1300 726 306 or you can visit the PANDA website for more information.