Postnatal depression and anxiety
Postnatal depression and anxiety is depression and anxiety that happens after giving birth to a child.
It can develop between one month and up to one year after birth.
The symptoms of depression and anxiety in early parenthood are the same as at any other time in our life. Yet, they are complicated by the task of raising a baby.
Symptoms can be even harder to identify when you’re fatigued and sleep-deprived from looking after your baby.
Get urgent support
Seek help immediately or call 000 if you are having thoughts of suicide or harming yourself or your baby.
Call the PANDA Helpline (1300 726 306)
Call Lifeline (13 11 14)
The baby blues or depression?
Many people who’ve given birth get the ‘baby blues’ in the first few days after childbirth.
Signs include being teary, feeling irritable or sensitive, and having mood changes.
The baby blues are temporary. They usually diminish within a few days with some support and understanding. The baby blues are different to postnatal depression, which generally does not go away on its own.
When symptoms persist and interfere with everyday life, it’s important to seek support.
Visit the PANDA website to take the mental health checklists for:
Signs and symptoms of postnatal depression
Up to one in 6 women experience postnatal depression.
Some common symptoms include:
- low mood or feeling numb
- feeling hopeless, helpless, empty or sad
- feelings of worthlessness
- feeling unmotivated and unable to cope with a daily routine
- fears about the baby, including being alone with the baby or the baby becoming unsettled
- often feeling close to tears
- being angry, irritable or resentful
- not being able to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping a lot
- having nightmares
- changes to appetite (not eating or over-eating)
- loss of interest in things that you would normally enjoy
- recurring negative thoughts
- withdrawing from social contact
- having thoughts about wanting to escape or get away from everything
- having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, or ending your life.
Find out more about depression symptoms on the PANDA website.
Signs and symptoms of postnatal anxiety
Around one in 6 women also experience postnatal anxiety.
Some signs to look for include:
- anxiety or fear that interrupts your thoughts and interferes with daily tasks
- panic attacks (outbursts of extreme fear and panic that are overwhelming and feel difficult to bring under control)
- anxiety and worries that keep coming into your mind and are difficult to stop or control
- constantly feeling irritable, restless or on edge
- having tense muscles, a tight chest and heart palpitations
- finding it difficult to relax
- taking a long time to fall asleep at night.
Find out more about anxiety symptoms on the PANDA website.
Postnatal depression and anxiety in dads
Most people are aware that anxiety and depression can affect new mothers. Fathers are also at risk.
Postnatal depression also affects about one in 10 new dads. And anxiety is likely to be just as common in new parents as depression.
Some factors that might contribute are:
- having previous experiences of anxiety or depression before
- a partner with anxiety or depression
- a lack of practical, emotional or social support available
- financial stress
- supporting your partner through a difficult birth
- current or past issues with drugs or alcohol
- a baby with health issues
- relationship difficulties
- the reality of parenting being different from what you expected.
Learn more about anxiety and depression in new dads on the PANDA website.