If you are struggling with the challenges of becoming a new parent then it’s important to recognise when things have become more serious than general ups and downs. There’s a difference between simply having a little trouble adjusting to the changes that come with parenthood and a serious mental illness that can affect your ability to function.
If your feelings are worrying you or stopping you from functioning normally for more than two weeks, you may be experiencing postnatal anxiety or depression. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is fine to talk about it. In fact, it is better that you do! The sooner you seek support, the sooner you can begin treatment and start feeling better.
'Asking for help had been so hard for me to do. But once I let go of that need to be perfect and in control and asked for help I was actually able to take back control of my life'
Treating postnatal anxiety and depression
We know that everyone experiences postnatal anxiety and depression differently. The way it can affect you depends on a range of factors, from your own physical, emotional and mental make up to external factors that might be having an impact.
There are also different degrees of the illness. Some people experience milder symptoms of postnatal anxiety or depression, while others have more severe symptoms. The common factor is that the illness is affecting your ability to enjoy being a new parent and potentially impacting your ability to function at all.
This means there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Everyone responds to treatment differently. One treatment for postnatal anxiety or depression might work for one person, but not the next. You are unique, and so is your treatment.
If you are a new parent worried about your emotional and mental wellbeing it’s important to seek support from a trusted health professional. Here at PANDA we recommend you see your GP. Your GP should be able to help you understand what is happening and direct you to the best treatment options. These might include counselling, methods of self-care, medication or direction to appropriate information and resources.
It’s also important for a GP to rule out any other physical conditions that we know can contribute to feelings of depression, anxiety, low energy or lack of motivation. If these are identified and treated the feelings that are worrying you may stop.
Other health professionals like maternal and child health nurses can also provide you with advice and information. It is important to remember that if you do not feel heard by your health professional or you are not satisfied with the advice and treatment you receive, it is worth seeking a second opinion.
If you are in any doubt, call the PANDA National Helpline. Our telephone counsellors will listen carefully to your concerns and direct you towards the most appropriate steps to take from there.
Concerned about medication? Try to be as informed as possible.
Some people find the prospect of taking antidepressant medications confronting. Many people naturally have concerns about possible side effects and the length of time they will need to stay on them. There are also pre-conceptions associated with antidepressant medications that can contribute to people’s uncertainty and belief that there is stigma associated with taking medication.
If you’re feeling at all uneasy, we encourage you to get as much information as possible about the medication that is being recommended. It’s vital, however, that this information comes from an expert source.
Expert advice can also be obtained from Medications Information Helplines which are available in each state. We discourage you from seeking information about medications from unreliable sources on the internet.